The top photo, taken this morning, shows a Goldenrod gall. The gall is formed when the Goldenrod Gall Fly (bottom photo), lays an egg in the stem of a goldenrod. The stem grows around the intrusion and forms a ball-like gall. The egg hatches into a larva which spends the winter there and in late spring hatches into the fly in the bottom photo. However... some birds, squirrels and mice all find the larva delicious and will gnaw or peck holes into the gall and extract it.