I walked in the woods at Long Point on Chautauqua Lake State Park yesterday. Most people associate this park with the lakefront and the marina. I almost always avoid that part to walk the trails through the forest. There are some amazing very, very old trees in there!
At the base of one of these old trees, the ground was littered with twigs thinner than my pinkie finger. Each twig had a roundish, woody growth. (At first I thought it was doggie poo that some kid had poked with a stick… Eww…)
There were dozens of these on the ground.
I looked up to see where they were all coming from… And they were all coming from a single tree.
It was astounding how many were on this tree, and how the other trees nearby had nothing! After some poking around on the Internet, I’m fairly sure these are gouty oak galls. They are formed through the presence of a small cynipid wasp (Callirhytis quercuspunctata).
I picked up a couple of the galls and was going to ask my friend Terry to slice one open for me in his wood shop. Then I found this photo from the University of Kentucky showing the larval chambers inside one of these galls. (You’re off the hook, Terry!)
I’m still a little confused about the life history of this wasp. Two generations, two different kinds of galls produced at different times of the year. I find some information at this website and other information at that website, but the tidbits seem contradictory and I’m not sure how the puzzle pieces fit together, nor do I have the patience to continue. I’m not going to try to be an expert, here! I’ve found out enough to satisfy my curiousity for now… I may come back to this topic and delve deeper, or I may get side-tracked by the next weird thing that crosses my path… That’s the way I am!
If you want to delve deeper now, here are some places to start:
http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/fid/may07/%20fid_may_2007.pdf (scroll down to page 6 of this publication)