You’ll Never Guess What’s Inside These Cute Little Oak Tree Balls
I do my best to try and learn something new every day, and because of my job, I am able to do that just about every day. It could be some useless piece of information, or it could be a fun fact about a celebrity - on most days, the 'thing' I learn is silly. But every once in a while I will learn something that is actually kind of interesting. Here's one example - I just recently learned why I shouldn't kill house centipedes. And just today, I learned about these fun little balls that you might find in an oak tree.
What Are Those Things?
They are called "oak apple galls" because they look like apples and they are found in oak trees. They are NOT, however, apples or any other kind of fruit. An oak apple gall actually starts out as just a regular leaf, but it's what happens next that is so interesting. The leaf is transformed into a ball, or gall, which serves as a nursery for a tiny wasp larva - one larva per ball. According to the Connecticut Fish & Wildlife...
They are produced by a parent wasp that essentially hijacks leaf tissue at the molecular level to form a self-serving nest instead. The wasp injects a plant with gall-producing chemicals that are essentially replicas of plant hormones, along with eggs. Once an egg hatches and the gall is developed, the chemicals continue to instruct the plant to produce nutritious tissues to feed the larvae until mature enough to exit the gall and fly off.
Should I Be Afraid of Oak Apple Galls?
Nah, I don't think we have a thing to worry about. The wasps that grow inside the galls are tiny and are not aggressive towards humans - and you'd probably be fine, too, even if one of those galls fell from a tree and bonked you on the noggin.
Oak apple galls are just another example of how amazing, weird, and complex mother nature is, and how much we still don't know about her. And now, you too can say that you learned something new today.