#365daysofbiking The rise and gall:
September 12th – I’ve been watching the robin’s pincushion gall I found in Darlaston mature as the weeks pass by. I’m interested to see if it shows any sign of being vacated by the insects who grow inside it, and also observe how it decays, to find out what’s under the ‘fur’.
It’s grown redder, and the fur seems to be dying away, with a cavity open on the upper side. I wonder if the wasps have left?
These creations of parasites – unique to wild and dog roses – are absolutely fascinating and I’ll be keeping an eye on this one as autumn draws on.
July 25th – These oak knopper galls actually took me by surprise a couple of days ago, but the photos I took weren’t great, so I revisited the saplings they’re growing on today.
I spotted them on a tree near Victoria Park in Darlaston and I don’t think there’s a single normally formed acorn on that tree at all, and yet several adjacent ones have no knoppers at all.
These mutations of normal acorns are of course caused by a tiny wasp that lays eggs in the acorn buds earlier in the year. A secretion the eggs are coated in causes the acorn bud to mutate and grow in a distorted form, forming a gall, with the wasp egg at the centre.
The larva hatches, and eats it’s way out of the gall, which provides it enough nourishment to grow to maturity.
Insect galls like this don’t hurt the tree, but of course, do affect it’s fecundity.
Isn’t nature amazing?
May18th – Arriving at work today on a sunny, bright but nippy morning in total contrast to the day before – I spotted this wee creature, very much alive on the doorhandles. I guess it can only have got there by a startled bird dropping it when disturbed by a called (I had just missed the post who’s not noted for their gentle approach to their duty).
I was quite concerned it might die, so I popped it in a nearby tree – presumably to be taken again by bluetits or some other creepy crawly eating bird.
Wonder what it would grow into?
May 29th – I don’t know why, but I find these oak galls a bit horrible. They are distorted leaf buds, into which a wasp injects it’s egg and a chemical which causes the tree to grown the gall instead of a leaf stalk. The larva lives within the growth, feasting on it. When mature, the wasp eats it’s way out and the life cycle continues.
This tree on Clayhanger Common is peppered with these tumour-like galls – they look like fruit. The gall doesn’t harm the tree particularly, but it’s a very visible parasite.
there are many different types of gall wasp, all with different methods and growths. I’ve not seen this one before, and am unsure what it is specifically.
Nature can be very odd sometimes.
July 29th – Oak Apples, or galls, are an interesting thing. Very visible right now, they are the gall of a type of wasp that lays it’s egg inside new oak leaf buds. A chemical reaction caused by a secreted fluid causes the gall to grow, and inside, the wasp larva feeds on it, eventually burrowing it’s way to the surface and flying away.
Isn’t nature amazing?