Wasp gall

June 27, 2012

I don’t think I had ever heard of this until I found one this afternoon at the reservoir and ran into a botanist there who explained to me what I had found.  (Here’s what it looks like.)

Having accused (in a reply this morning to a comment to one of his columns) David Brooks of living in a cocoon, I thought this was a nice bit of synchronicity.  (Bruce Springsteen figured prominently in the column, so I guess I could take as another, though more complex, example of synchronicity the comment I got from a fellow taking tree wood out of the brook that flows away from the reservoir, as I ended my walk, namely, that I look like Janis Joplin.)

But what fascinates me is the bit I read about this evening about how parasitical wasps sometimes intrude their own larvae into these galls — what a concept!  A coerced form of surrogacy, in a way.  (The parasite aspect seems echoed by the fact that with the botanist I also found the woman who cuts down bittersweet vines along the path around the reservoir, whom I’ve met before.)

It reminds me of an old tale about a woman who is visited by a incubus who commandeers her husband’s body, and through it, makes love to her.  She becomes terrified she will become pregnant with a monster through this and hopes to somehow “replace” this unborn monster with her husband’s child by making love with her husband while he is not possessed, the next night.  I’m not sure she ever learns the outcome of her situation, however, because I think she either loses her mind before the birth and doesn’t even realize she has been pregnant, or she dies immediately after the delivery.  The baby in fact is taken away by one of the women attending the birth, and placed with an unsuspecting family.  The husband and the incubus are both angry (at being deprived of “their” son).  The baby grows up to “have issues.”

I am pretty sure my wasp gall in empty; the botanist thought so from the small hole in it and its brown color, and I noticed when I first picked it up how empty it feels.  Wouldn’t want to bring any creepy crawlies or stinging things into my house.

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