What Gall! The Crazy Cribs of Parasitic Wasps | Deep Look


Plenty of animals build
their homes in oak trees, but it’s another thing
entirely to get the oak tree to do all the work. To build your house for you. Say you’re an oak tree,
just sitting there minding your own business, when suddenly
this tiny wasp comes along. She says hey, why
don’t you build me a nursery for these baby
wasps I’m about to have? And then she injects her
eggs under your skin. You find yourself creating an
entirely new structure, one you would have never
built for yourself. What nerve, you
might say, what gall! And you’d be right. This thing, this parasitic
wasp house, it’s called a gall. There can be dozens of types
of galls on a single tree, each one built to order for
a specific species of wasp. They’re called
gall-inducing wasps, and each gall is weirder and
more flamboyant than the next. Sometimes the wasps
prefer a mobile home. This one is called
a jumping gall. It falls from the
tree and bounces across the ground like
a Mexican jumping bean until it finds a
safe place to hatch. As a protection
against predators, galls can taste
incredibly bitter, bitter like the bile produced
by a gallbladder. In fact, the earliest doctors
believed being bitter and angry meant an excess of
gall in the body. Anyway, back to our tree. Inside the gall, the
larvae mature and develop, and as they grow they
release chemicals that tell the tree
how to build the gall. The tree is tricked
into funneling nutrients into the gall to feed
the hungry wasp larvae. Scientists call this
a physiologic sink. For the larvae, it’s like
living inside a giant banana, an endless supply of food. But the peace and
quiet don’t last long. All that free food starts
attracting uninvited guests. That original wasp
itself becomes a host for another set of
wasps, called parasitoids. One study in the UK found
17 different wasp species living in one gall. But the oak tree? It does just fine, in most cases
unharmed by the tiny rivalries in tiny houses on its
branches and its leaves.

100 Replies to “What Gall! The Crazy Cribs of Parasitic Wasps | Deep Look”

  1. I want more! I need details of the biochemical mechanisms of gall-building now… but I don't want to have to read it…. I need PBS-DS to start a new biochemistry channel…. with those people from Harvard who do the really really cool molecule animations providing the visuals……………. or am I just getting greedy?

  2. imagine being stuck in a forest fighting for survival, super hungry, and you see jumping gals, thinking it's beans, being your last resort you eat it, but don't worry you watched this video, now you know, thank you Deep Look

  3. Actually Gallnuts by Gall Wasps can be used for hair treatment like hair polishing and dye for clothing

  4. When your such a bad tenant that you force the landlord to custom build a house for your children.

  5. I found some balls in our miniature garden same as that one in the vid. I thought it was the seed of a certain plant so I just popped them all not realizing it was an egg of a wasp

  6. It is fascinating that the galls are so different, instead of the oak healing over it. How does the genetic code of the parasite affect the oak cells?

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  8. I have chosen my old school it was Carmen Anaya Elementary I always thought those were like a caterpillar eggs but no know when I saw this video and 2019 now I want one of them because it reminds me of jumping beans but I also want them to be gone because they're killing all the bees

  9. a few questions, at the end you say that it isn't a big problem for the tree itself, is that right?

    And, Could you bake or fry these, they seem really nutritious and once you season it and are a bit used to bitterness already, could it be a great dish?

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