Thursday, 21 November 2013

A walk in the woods

I went for a walk yesterday on a nice pathway between some large oak trees. I picked up a couple of oak galls which are in the first two pictures below. Children, and sometimes adults pick these up and think that they are some kind of nut. The oak galls, and I have sometimes heard them called oak apples are actually housing the larvae of a small species of wasp called a gall wasp. The wasp lays it egg on an oak twig. The tree grows around the spot where the egg is laid and the oak gall is formed. The young wasp when it reaches time to emerge eats its way out and flies away with little harm being done to the tree. The oak galls were one time very important and most of us who were brought to Dublin on our school tours to the museums have seen the result of the oak gall. It used to be gathered in great numbers and boiled to make a dark brown ink which was used by the ancient scribes on the Book of Kells. The last two pictures are also galls. These galls are known as spangle galls and are the result of egg laying by a different species of wasp. That is the end of todays useless information from someone with too much time on his hands.

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