Figs And Wasps (4 Common Misconceptions Debunked)

In this article, you will have a clear understanding of figs and wasps. We are going to mainly focus on the relationship between figs and waps and address some of the common questions and beliefs people have about figs and wasps.


If you have seen a fig tree before, you will know that they have no visible flowers and seem very unattractive.

So, we cannot say that figs are wind-pollinated because I do not think such a unique flower will get any attraction from outside.

We can say that fig is the stem of an inflorescence, or we can call it an inverted flower.

Such a flower so unique requires a unique pollinating process, and this is where the wasps come into action.

Wasps are the sole pollinators of fig and that is why figs have wasps in them.

Let us look at the relation between fig and wasps in detail.

A wasp sitting on a green fig
Fig and wasps. Source:

What is the relationship between figs and wasps?

The little flowers present in the fig trigger the pollinating process; the fig then secretes a unique aroma that is bound to only attract female wasps of a certain family (Agaonidae).

The scent brings the female wasp to the fig and then she struggles to get into the fig through a small hole by the end of the fig but because the hole is too small, the female wasp may end up losing its wing and her antennas.

While inside the fig, the wasp begins to lay eggs on each flower it finds in the fig. As they lay eggs, pollen gotten from a previous fig has been circulated by the wasp.

The wasp can do this because it originated from a previous fig.  

The pollen enables the seed to grow in the fruit also some ovaries of flowers are out of the reach of the wasp so eggs cannot be laid there. Once the female wasp is done, she dies in the fig.

“Figs do not kill wasps, but they are trapped inside the fig and dies eventually.”

Eggs begin to grow inside the seeds as they become grubs. Full development will be completed in the space of 2-3 weeks and then larvae begin to emerge from the seeds.

The male will come out first and then search for females to mate with. Please be reminded that all this goes on in the fig, the males are smaller and do not have wings to fly.

Once they are done mating, they also die in the fig, and the female that is fully fertilized will get ready for the next trip to another fig ready for pollination.

Are figs dead wasps?

Many people think that figs are dead wasps, no they are not. Some even think that the seeds they find inside figs are all dead wasps, but that is not true.

What happens is that when a wasp dies in the fig an enzyme known as ficin is secreted in the fig that will help to digest the dead wasp and use the nutrients to produce seeds and fruit.

Do wasps lay eggs in Figs?

Yes, they do. When a female wasp wants to pollinate a fig, they find a hole to crawl into and will lose their wings as they do so because the space is very narrow.

The female wasp is then trapped inside the fig and so she lays eggs if the fig is male. The eggs will turn into larvae when they hatch and then drill their way out as they become wasps before they fly off.

But if the wasp finds herself in a female fig, she will not lay eggs, she just pollinates it and dies.

Are all figs fertilized by wasps?

Agaonidae, a family of small wasps pollinate all the fig trees in the world.

Fig trees can be classified as tropical plants and there are many species all over the world.

All figs are fertilized by wasps except the ones that are not pollinated naturally. These wasps are so tiny that you can’t see them properly and they can easily go unnoticed. They are responsible for making fig what it is. 

Ficus Aurea and Ficus citrifolia are the two species of figs that are native to the United States. The major difference between them is the species of wasp that is capable of pollinating, Ficus aurea is pollinated by pegoscaous Mexicans while Ficus citrifolia is pollinated by pegoscapus tonduuzi.

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