9 Oct 2013

spangle galls.


So on my previously mentioned Autumn explore I spotted a lot of these little UFO like shapes on the underside of the oak leaves.  Hundreds and hundreds of tiny little UFOs.  James and I stared at them for a while and figured they might be some sort of insect or moth egg.  
The reality is so much more exciting than just some dumb bug egg - these little discs are Spangle Galls!  
Spangle Galls contain the larvae of a type of Gall Wasp (aka cynipid wasps); these wasps, either whilst an egg or as a larvae depending on the breed, secrete a substance which causes the leaf to reorganise its cells and develop this weird growth which is the perfect environment for the larvae to develop in, all snugly enclosed.
The larvae can then even get the plant to direct more nutrients towards the cells surrounding its moist bedroom - the plant literally delivers food to its door.


How neat is that?!  Some people (cecidologists) spend their lives studying these phenomena and still, very little is known about them!  I am going to have to go gall hunting again some time. 


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