While strolling down the Trail I started noticing that some of the oak leaves were rolled up.
I took a closer look.
I looked at the end
And I cut it in half and looked
Then I started searching the Internet in hopes of finding what sort of creature rolled the leaves. And what I found amazed me. In this blog I normally try to keep words to a minimum but this rolled leaf provides such a fascinating example of a complex genetically-determined behavior that I just have to share.
The leaves are rolled by a weevil to provide a nest for its eggs. The following is a quote from a University of Florida article which fully details the process:
“The leaf is measured by stepping it off “so many paces up – so many paces over.” Beginning from the margin, the leaf is bitten across to the midrib. The midrib is nearly (but not quite) severed to cut off the water supply to the lower half of the leaf. The attack then continues on the other side of the midrib. If the leaf is later to be cut completely off and dropped, the cutting continues to the opposite margin of the leaf. If it is to be left hanging on the tree, the cutting is discontinued a short distance past the midrib.”
This is only the first step in the process. Here is a link to the article and I hope that you will read about the rest of this amazing behavior under the Life Cycle and Behavior section.