One of the most prominent insects in the Nevada landscape at Cathedral Gorge are the Rabbitbrush Galls. Most of the mature rabbitbrush has a dozen or so galls per plant. Several species of picture-wing flies (Aciurina spp.; Family: Tephritidae) are capable of creating galls on rabbitbrush. Residents of the Midwest may be more familiar with Goldenrod Galls that are produced by a species of picture-wing fliy in the Tephritidae family. In the West, there is not much goldenrod and rabbitbrush is a suitable host for the picture-wing gall makers.
The larvae grow and develop in Summer and Fall and overwinter in the larval stage. They pupate inside the gall and emerge as adults when the plant is actively growing and can be induced to form galls by newly hatched larvae. The adult flies can be collected by caging the galls after the larvae have pupated and allowing the adult flies to emerge. Like many gall insects, the Tephritid flies are controlled by parasitoid wasps.