Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Unmitigated Gall..

While standing outside the shop this morning taking a smoke break,I happened to look down and notice a small pile of amber colored seeds at my feet,beneath a Live-Oak tree.
Nothing unusual about that this time of year,..wait?,..Oaks grow from acorns..
Plus!.. These seeds were moving erratically about,and literally jumping several inches above the asphalt!
..No wind,mind you.

I took a minute's worth of video of this phenomenon,but I think it's best observed at around the 45 second mark..

video

I pointed this out to a couple of the fellas who've lived in this area all their lives.
They thought it was interesting enough,but couldn't tell me what the hell the story was.

One thing I've never been able to tolerate,is a question I can't answer.
I will seriously lose sleep over this type of thing.
..No way am I lettin' this go!

So,when I got home,I lickity-split on over to Google.

Most folks are familiar with Mexican jumping beans,..that they jump because there is a larval worm dwelling inside.
These things are no bigger than the head of a pin,but I figured that would be a good place to start.

Nope...Not even so much as a cross reference.

What should I call these things?..
How about, 'Oak jumping seeds'?

BINGO!!..
'The California Jumping Gall'!

Check it out..The tiny 'Jumping Oak Gall Wasp' (Neuroterus Saltatorius) deposits it's eggs inside the stems of Oak leaves.
The Oak defends itself by forming a gall around the offending egg,which in turn serves to protect the wasp's larvae while it develops.
(Aren't you just lovin' the poetry in this motion?)..

The gall jumps because the larvae is attempting to regulate it's temperature.
In about three months the fully formed adult wasp,which is about the size of your average flea,emerges!


Turns out,there are several species of the little bugger,..one of which makes it's home in edible figs.
In fact,the fig produces a nutlet in response to this intrusion.
The nutlets formed by the wasp's pollination provide the nutty flavor and crunch in your Fig Newtons!


..I know I'm gonna sleep better knowing this.

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19 Comments:

At 11:46 PM , Blogger Willym said...

well now ain't you just an Encyclopedia Americana... like you I find this sort of thing fascinating and glad you didn't give up on the search.

 
At 12:12 AM , Blogger Sling said...

Willym- I watched 'em for 15 minutes!
I scooped some up in my hand and they jumped out...I'm a nerd like that.

 
At 7:57 AM , Blogger billy pilgrim said...

it's the sandkings!!!

 
At 8:08 AM , Blogger sageweb said...

Wow that is amazing and creepy.

 
At 9:20 AM , Blogger YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

your a regular mr. rogers...i learned how to make erasers watching his show and now i know how fig newtons are given the crunchy taste..thanks buddy..

 
At 10:34 AM , Blogger jp said...

I thought mexican jumping beans were something that only happened in tom & jerry cartoons.

so i learned 2 things from you today.

 
At 11:17 AM , Blogger Sling said...

Billy P.- No kidding!..Hey,maybe they'll build a monument to me.

Sage- I can't he'p it,I love the creepy part.

Yellerdawg- Thanks..Now I have to go find out how erasers are made.

JP- Mexican jumping beans are not a myth.
What is a myth is that you will jump around if you eat them.
Don't ask me how I know that.

 
At 2:08 PM , Blogger Random Thinker said...

Another reason to not like fig newtons.

 
At 3:44 PM , Blogger secret agent woman said...

Oh dear God. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat another Fig Newton.

But I do the same sort of thing - I can't not know what something like that is.

 
At 3:48 PM , Blogger laurent said...

this is too much information on fig newtons.
The puppies are now scared!

 
At 4:06 PM , Blogger Middle Child said...

Whatsa fig newton??? she asks...
Its fascinating stuff...the more we learn the more we find there is to learn.

 
At 5:45 PM , Blogger Sling said...

It's my understanding that the seeds in fig newtons aren't larval cases,but a by-product of pollination by the wasp.
Besides,..do I need to remind you kids that honey is basically bee vomit?
Mmmmm..Sweet,sweet honey.

 
At 5:49 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

I LOVE that you are the kind of person who needs to find these kinds of things out. *smiles*

And that is quite fascinating, I must say! :)

 
At 10:51 AM , Blogger Sling said...

Miss HP- As I look down my blogroll,it's easy to see that my blogpals are infected with that same kind of curiosity.
That,and the treasure trove of information at my fingertips is why I love the interwebs. :)

 
At 11:12 AM , Blogger cs said...

i am with the rest of the crew here--my figgies will never be the same thank you very much...interesting as it is....your blog info will flash across my mind as i look at them on the store isle....

 
At 11:31 AM , Blogger Sling said...

CS- Sorry doll..Fig Newtons will still remain my most favorite cookie!
I love to enjoy them with a nice,ice cold glass of that juice that comes from a cow's udder!

 
At 1:15 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

Are you lying about the fig newtons?

 
At 3:39 PM , Blogger Grish said...

When did the internet start become informative?

I miss the memo or what...

That is pretty cool though. :)

 
At 4:41 PM , Blogger Sling said...

Rainey- True stuff!..Understand,nothing is,or ever has lived inside these 'nutlets'.
They somehow form in response to pollination by the wasp.
I just met the go-to horticulture guy for the county today,and he told me that most figs have/had a wasp living inside..he said about 85%.

Grish- Who knew??..Auld Hat(Angie) used to call it 'The You-Tube forwarding service'..I miss The Hat.

 

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