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A Wasp Most Likely Died Inside That Fig You Are About To Eat

By Karly Carpena
August 26, 2016

Did you know that Figs are not considered a fruit, but rather an inverted flower? Their flowers bloom inside the pear-shaped pod, which later matures into the fruit we eat. Each flower then produces a single, one-seeded, hard-shelled fruit called achene – which gives the fruit its crunch.


Because fig flowers bloom internally, they need a special process for pollination. The fig cannot survive without the fig wasp to spread its genetic material / pollination, and the fig wasp cannot live without the fig, because that’s where it lays its larva ― this relationship is known as mutualism.

The female fig wasp enters the male fig ― which we don’t eat – to lay its eggs. The female wasp’s wings and antennae break off when entering the small passage in the fig so once it’s in, there is no way out. It’s up to the baby wasps to continue the life cycle. Male baby wasps are born without wings, because their sole purpose is to mate with the female offspring (STRANGE I KNOW) and dig a tunnel out of the fig. It’s the female offspring that make the journey out, bringing pollen with them.


If a fig wasp enters a female fig accidentally ― the ones we all like to eat ― instead of a male one, it cannot escape, because its wings and antennae have broken off. So the wasp dies inside, but it is necessary because that’s how it delivers the pollen giving us the fruit we love.

The fig uses an enzyme known as ficin to break down the wasp into protein, though it doesn’t always break down the entire exoskeleton. So, yes, technically when you bite into a fig you are in fact eating fig wasps. Some vegans might choose to stay away from this fruit for this very reason.



Watch the video below from Brain Stuff to see exactly how the pollination process works.