Friday, June 11, 2010

Jumping Leaf Galls

In case you missed it, Francis Skalicky had an interesting article on Jumping Oak Leaf Galls in the News-Leader.  A tiny wasp lays it eggs on the leaf, causing ugly browning and shriveling of the leaf but no permanent damage to the tree.  They hit the news because of a larger than usual infestation this year.
According to the Minnesota DNR jumping oak gall wasp is Neuroterus saltatorius, a much more serious name. "Larvae have chemicals in their saliva that stimulate the oak leaf tissue to form the yellow blister-shaped galls. As the galls mature, they are released from the leaf and rain down onto the soil. The galls bounce around until they become lodged in the soil and they overwinter there."
The larva wiggling to free themselves from the gall produces the jumping action.  You can see the galls dance on Youtube.  For a massive overdose of information on these galls, check out the California's Amazing Jumping Galls page.
I was completing this blog when I accidentally stumbled across the MDC Blog on the same subject.  As much time as we spend with MDC, it is a little embarrassing to only now find this Fresh Afield blog that has been in existence since August, 2007!  The blog runs interesting stories about twice a week and I have added it to the home page "Links" so you can follow it regularly.

Speaking of galls, did you know that Alfred C. Kinsey of sexuality behavior studies fame got his start studying galls?  I have been telling you that galls are sexy.  See Confessions of a Gall Hunter.
Note:  I have also added Waynes Word to the Links site.  It is a site to browse of interesting reading on biology, botany and has lots of pictures.  Stay away unless you have time to burn!

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