What, actually, are figs?

I just found a new reason to dislike figs from the market. I don’t like them in the first place but they tend to come with the mixed nuts that I have as snacks. I bought the one with figs before realizing how hard to chew they are. Anyway, spoiler, figs have wasp:

Figs are not actually fruits but a mass of inverted flowers and seeds that are pollinated by a species of tiny symbiotic wasps. The male fig flower is the only place where the female wasp can lay her eggs, at the bottom of a narrow opening in the fruit that she shimmies her way through. The baby wasps mature inside the fig into males that have sharp teeth but no wings and females ready to fly. They mate, the males chew through the special fig pollen holders and drop them down to the females, chew holes in the skin of the fig to let the females out, and then die. The females, armed with the pollen, fly off in search of new male figs to lay her eggs in. In the process some of the female wasps land on female figs that don’t have the special egg receptacle but trick the female into shimmying inside. As the female wasp slides through the narrow passage in the fig her wings are ripped off (egg laying is a one-way mission) and while she is unsuccessful in laying her eggs, she successfully pollinates the female flower. The female flower then ripens into the fig that you can get at the supermarket, digesting the trapped wasp inside with specialized enzymes! (Source: ScienceBlogs)

A related video:

NATURE | The Queen of Trees | Wasps Inside the Fig | PBS

This is one part of nature that I am amazed about — that two species so different can be made so interdependent to each other. It almost seemed like perfect engineering.

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