Thursday, October 9, 2008

Update - Bees in the Trees

I heard back from the friendly folks at the Extension Office and they clarified what is going on up in my oak tree canopy.

According to Extension Program Specialist Wizzie Brown, "Some larvae inside galls cause the gall to release sugary compounds (honeydew) onto the surface of the gall which can attract bees, wasps and ants".

So there you have it, mystery solved. The oak galls up in the canopy of this tree are releasing sugary compounds to their surfaces accounting for all the bees, wasps, butterflies and squirrels I have seen up there busily devouring them.Those galls have been transformed by the larvae inside them into the equivalent of gum balls or jaw breakers. Pretty neat trick.While I was checking around that tree generally I noted (beside yesterday's lichen wonderland) both small red spheres and fuzzy yellow balls on the underside of the oak leaves.That brought me here to Ki's blog, Mucknmire, where nearly a year ago to the day he discovered a similar fuzzy phenomenon under his oak leaves way up in New Jersey. According to his investigation the furry looking yellow spheres are wooly oak leaf galls inhabited by parasitic wasps belonging to the genus Callirhytiis.I have not determined what makes the smallish red galls - I have run out of computer time for the day and must move on to dinner preparation. If any of you know what makes the smallish red galls on the undersides of live oak leaves - speak up!

The mystery plant remains a mystery so far. A couple of the Smarty Plants folk from the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center may visit Saturday to take a first hand look and see if they can determine if it is a non-native Croton or perhaps a native with non-compliant tendencies with regards to the appearance of its leaves and flowers.

Yeah, I apparently either have an uninvited migrant or a punk plant on my hands over here. Either way, it has certainly made itself at home. I'll keep y'all posted.

3 comments:

  1. This is happening all over our live oaks as well. Must be a big year for it.

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  2. Greetings Pam. The bees in our trees phenom has not recurred since '08 leading me to think colonies might move from tree to tree over time? Ah - that's just a pure amateur guess. So far this year (2010) it is the Coral Vine generating most of our buzz.

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  3. we have found them all over are tree i cut one opend and it looked like a seed but in the midle it looks all wet and gushy

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.