life

Soz, But There Are Dead Wasps In Your Figs

By Ally Parker December 10, 2019

And that's not all...

You’ve read the headline but allow us to confirm this awful, awful news.

You’ve been munching down on wasp skeletons while thinking you’re being a boujee, cheese platter pro.

To properly explain this, let us first drop this factoid: figs aren’t fruit.

No really, they’re actually an inverted flower - meaning the fig blooms inside its own pod.

And this is where the wasps come in. Because flowers did pollination to reproduce (hello Year 8 science), pollinators – normally bees but in this case wasps – need to get all up in there.

Still don’t believe us? Here’s the life cycle:

A fig tree produces both inedible male figs (caprifigs) which produce pollen and female figs with the inverted flower.

Female wasps crawl inside both types of fig to lay their eggs.

If she makes it to a male fig, she lays her eggs in a good environment then dies. Her eggs hatch and the offspring immediately has a mini orgy (side note: the males are blind and flightless). The males burrow out of the fig and the females fly out carrying pollen and fertilised eggs.

If the female wasp makes it into a female fig, she can’t lay her eggs and dies of starvation. Her death is not in vain however, as she brings pollen into the fig, thus pollinating it. This final, martyred act makes the fig ripen quickly so y’all can pair them with cheese.

Okay, okay. We slightly exaggerated the whole ‘skeleton’ thing.

The fig actually produces an enzyme called ficin, which breaks the itty-bitty insect body down into proteins that are then absorbed by the plant. 

What a wonderful world we live in. 

Enjoy those figs.

Image: Pexels, Giphy