It’s been a bad last week with my eyes, so dry and so hard to be outside in the wind. As such, I again haven’t been in much of a mood to go shoot, but thankfully these things seem to run in spurts and I’m feeling better now! What better way to get back outside than do a little more macro photography.
One of the things I’ve really loved about getting into macro photography (one whole month into it now!!) is that it’s opened my eyes to things I just wouldn’t have ever noticed before. When I’m walking along, closely scouring the vegetation or trail for an insect or some neat pattern to shoot with my macro lens, I certainly notice things I’d never noticed before when I shot almost exclusively birds. While walking in the Big Sioux Recreation Area (State Park across the street), I noticed that the undersides of the Burr Oak leaves had many little fuzzy balls. Not only fuzzy, but colorful and quite variable fuzzy little balls, between 1/4″ and 1/2″ in size, mostly in mixed bands of pink and cream colors.
A perfect opportunity for some macro shots! As the photo above shows, the fuzzy balls are variable, but seem to always be composed of the same two colors. I had assumed they were related to insect reproduction, thinking they were some kind of egg mass or something. A quick search of the internet when coming back home revealed that they are the galls of certain wasp species.
A wasp gall…OK? I knew the term “gall”, and had myself associated it with a variety of odd bumps and lumps and deformities that you see on plants. I had always assumed they were created by an insect to house eggs or young. I didn’t know the gall itself is actually plant tissue! Fascinating to read about! The galls are from the Cynipidae family of wasps. The females lay an egg on a leaf. There is some unknown chemical or mechanical triggering that induces the Burr Oak leaf itself to produce a protective gall around the egg. Once the egg hatches, the tiny wasp larvae feeds on the tissue of the gall itself, with the wasp eventually breaking free of the gall and flying away once it matures.
Very cool! And something I doubt I ever would have been aware of had I not started taking photos with a macro lens. I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed that this fuzzy, pink-and-cream colored creation was actually part of the oak leaf itself!