May 3rd – An interesting surprise to note one tree near Clayhanger Common this year has been hit heavily by the gall wasp that causes oak apple galls.
These growths – protective structures grown from corrupted leaf buds – house gall wasp larva that will eat their way out of the gall as the season progresses. The corruption is caused by the parent wasp injecting the larva’s egg into the nascent leaf bud covered in a chemical that causes the cells to deform.
It’s one of the odder evolutionary parasitic actions I’ve ever come across and it fascinates me. And it doesn’t seem to affect the tree at all.
One of the more peculiar aspects is all the oak trees around the one affected are completely untouched. But this one is affected more heavily than any I’ve ever seen in my life. There must be several thousand oak apples.
But why just this one tree? A fascinating thing.