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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We found this... thing... out in the woods the other day.

Here it is before we cracked it open. The shell is pretty hard - about as hard as an egg if the egg had no membrane.
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Inside it is a little feathery seed thingy (technical term) and a fly. In all of them that we cracked open there was the fly. The fly was alive, too.
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Is this some sort of spider egg or something? Is that fly for food? It's fascinating, but kinda creepy!

Thanks!
 

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Ohhhh! Something I actually know!

That ball thingie is called a gall. Different types of bugs lay their eggs on different parts of trees. Those eggs, or the goo that goes into the plant from the bug laying it, makes the leaf or twig or branch make different types of proteins or whatever & the plant makes a protective little enclosure (gall) around the egg. The bug then lives in the protective little enclosure, sometimes feeding off the stuff inside, until it's ready to hatch out of the enclosure. I'm not sure about the fly inside though, I've never seen a fly in the ones around here. If you notice in the picture, there is a larger mass of stuff inside the gall, and that should be the egg or the larva.

There are really, really funky ones that grow on cedar trees, they look like slimy, jiggly balls with tentacles.

Look up "gall" on wikipedia.com & it has a bunch of them listed there.
 

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Voice of Reason
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This may be of help.

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The round swellings on the stems of some goldenrod plants are caused by the gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis).

<snip>

When the gall fly larva hatches, it eats its way to the meristem, the growth tissue of the plant. Mechanical injury and fluids secreted by the larva cause the plant to produce the ball-shaped swelling around the larva. In autumn, the larva matures and makes an exit tunnel through the gall wall to within one cell layer of the outside. The larva spends the winter inside the gall in a resting state. In the spring, it forms a pupa, and emerges from the gall as an adult in May or early June.
http://www.oswego.edu/wscp/sg-s.htm
 

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(formerly Laura Jensen)
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Oak gall wasp Loxaulus maculipennis. Google it, there are photos of exactly what you have. Couldn't find information on the fly, though. Suspect it's one of the wasps, not a fly at all, just waiting for the right weather to emerge.
 

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Ok here is some absolutely useless information I had bouncing around in my brain.

Gall Wasps. Who wrote two books entirely devoted to gall wasps but is best known for writing on a decidedly different subject?


Alfred Kinsey. As in the The Kinsey Reports.


In addition to (and yes in full disclosure I had to look up the titles on wikipedia) the famous and controversial "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" he also wrote "The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips: A Study in the Origin of Species" and "The Origin of Higher Categories in Cynips"

I can't remember where I put my car keys but I can remember that Alfred Kinsey also researched gall wasps. I oughtta get on Jeopardy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You guys crack me up! Very gall-ant answers! :)

Glad to know what these things are - I was afraid of some weird spider invasion. Not that wasps make me much less shuddery...

Thanks a bunch!
April
 

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I just watched a PBS video, Life In The Undergrowth or something, and they talked about the SEVENTY-SOME different kinds of galls that oak trees can get. And yes, they are all part of the life cycle of various insects, generally winged flies or wasps.
 
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