We admit that while that is a particularly eyebrow-raising title, we are not exaggerating when we say it. It’s taken a team of international experts to get this far in understanding the mysterious fuzzy balls popping up in Orlando, but we still don’t know much about the furry round anomalies.
Have you seen these little fuzzy balls floating around Orlando? Let’s take a look at what we know so far.
The case of the fuzzy ball invasion fell across Orlando five years in October, strewn across the ground and mostly under oaks and leaves.
Was it a craft experiment gone awry? A small mammal with a serious case of hairballs? No one knew.
In 2014, Orlando Sentinel took a sample of the tiny brown pompoms and sent it to Eileen Buss, who is a professor at the UF Entomology and Nematology department.
She even co-wrote the book "Insect Galls of Florida." With a hunch, Buss then reached out to one of the world's leading gall experts, George Melika in Budapest, Hungary.
Together, they came to the tentative conclusion that the mysterious balls are commonly known as a fuzzy leaf gall. But the questions don’t stop there.
So, Orlando’s fuzzy balls are called galls, what but what’s causing them?
What experts have speculated is that hundreds of different species of wasps lay their eggs on the oak leaves, the leaves produce these fuzzy galls to shield themselves from it.
Basically, what any one of us would do if a wasp tried to lay eggs on us—ew gross, get it off, get it off!
However, Buss admits that very little is still known about these wasps and galls. She thinks the best way to learn more would be to keep a wasp gall in captivity as it developed through the stages of egg, larva, pupa and adult.
The wasps don’t sting and are very tiny, so if you come across one, fear not! Kids have even been using them in craft projects like pompoms!