Back in August, as part of a mini-series on some of the galls to be found on Oak trees, I posted about the Marble galls caused by the incredibly tiny wasp, Andricus kollari. Although most of the galls I’ve found have had tiny holes in them, meaning the wasps had already pupated and flown, a couple of weeks ago I found a couple with no holes. So, my curiosity got the better of me and I brought them home to see what might eventuate.
Note the tiny creature sitting on the gall.
Today, when I looked in the jar I’d put them in, I was so excited to see a tiny creature had appeared. Now, I initially thought this must be A. kollari, the gall-maker, but I was wrong … and, looking at images online, I don’t think I’m the only one who’s ever been fooled by this. However, with the help of friends who questioned and strangers who know much more than me, I’ve discovered there are at least 29 (twenty-nine!!) species of hymenoptera (bees, wasp, ants and sawflies) that might live within an Oak marble gall.
Though some of these critters simply use the gall for shelter, it seems that, for others, the gall tissue is a good source of nutrients, while still others are parasites whose larvae kill some or all of the larvae of the original gall-making wasp. Without detailed microscopic examination, I’m not able to determine which species this tiny wasp is but I thought you might like to see this little video of it performing its ablutions earlier. I have now released it back in the area where I found it so let’s hope it survives.