Why do figs have a dead wasp inside?

Why do figs have a dead wasp inside?


Figs are full of fibre, a great source of
vitamins, and packed with nutrients. They also contain digested wasp bodies, thanks
to an incredible, mutually dependent relationship between figs and fig wasps, which has evolved
over millions of years and is vital to the survival of both. Each species of wasp targets a specific species
of fig, and the relationship is based upon the fact that female wasps need a safe place
to lay eggs, and fig trees needs to be pollinated to reproduce. The whole process is possible thanks to fig’s
biology. A fig is technically a multiple fruit having
male and female flowers inside them. The female flowers receive the pollen that
is brought inside the fig, by the fig wasp, and then produce seeds for the plant, enabling
it to reproduce. The male flowers produce pollen, which is
then picked up by the female wasp hatchlings as they leave. Let us explore this relationship:
A female fig wasp laden with pollen enters the inside of an unripe fig for laying her
eggs, via an opening called the ostiole. The process of entering the fruit tears the
female’s wings off. Once inside, the female wasp starts laying
eggs thereby depositing pollen from another fig. The fig is now fertilised and starts to mature. However, since the female’s wings are torn
apart, she is unable to leave again, and dies inside the fig soon after. Flower ovaries that contain wasp larvae form
enclosing gall like structure. The pollinated flowers without larvae produce
seeds for the fig plant. Wasp eggs develop as the fig matures, and
the males hatch first. While still inside the fig, they travel in
search of female wasp and fertilize them while the females are still inside their gall. Without ever leaving the inside of fig, these
wingless male wasps dig escape tunnels for their mates and die. The female hatchlings exit through the tunnels,
carrying the fig’s pollen from male flowers. They then take to the skies and find another
fig plant to enter and lay eggs in. It’s like the pollen is the currency, the
fig is the private maternity ward, and the wasp is the paying guest. You may be worrying that all this wasp death
means you are munching on dead insect bodies as you eat a fig, but actually the remains
are quickly broken down by enzymes within the fruit. The crunchy bits are just seeds!

11 thoughts on “Why do figs have a dead wasp inside?”

  1. Hi,I love your videos, I am the "first police","comment police" or "YouTuber respect police",I'll keep the comment about your amazing videos and not about people commenting "first" all the time,anyone can join it,they just need to reply to me saying they want to join! :3

  2. that awkward moment when u realize that the guy-vasps never see the day of light, ever
    and that…possibly since the evolution of this weird "symbiosis"

    matriarchy confirmed?

  3. I found your channel just now when I saw your comment on a teded video. Subbed because the animations are quite good and I love your voice 🙂

  4. Nice explanation, will you please tell me which editing software you use?
    Actually, I'm new on YouTube.

    https://youtu.be/yheO6uNUC1E

  5. Great work! Beautiful video!

    I've seen somewhere that this symbiotic reproduction cycle happens only between wasps and wild figs. Artificially selected figs, the domesticated ones we eat, don't go through this cycle with the wasps. Have you seen anything like it while researching for this video?

  6. I had made the decision to not ever eat a fig again until the end of the video. Thanks for the heads up!

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