Fig Wasp Facts
- The term Fig Wasp refers to any member species of a specific polyphyletic group of wasps. These display a rather remarkable form of complete coevolution with the fig tree.
- Each variety of this rather surprising invertebrate enjoys a unique coevolutionary connection with the fig tree. This likely originated around 70-90 million years ago.
- In fact, the survival of each species in this group remains completely dependent upon the fig tree. This occurs because the female simply will not lay eggs in any other place.
- As part of the coevolution, the member species of this group represent the only insects that fertilize the fig tree. Therefore, the two species have become entirely dependent upon each other.
- The Fig Wasp is the only insect that pollinates the fig tree.Click To Tweet
Fig Wasp Physical Description
The fascinating Fig Wasp displays an unusual form of sexual dimorphism. The females have the physical appearance common to wasps.
In most species, however, the males remain completely wingless. Aside from the lack of wings, the males possess the same physical characteristics as the female.
Exact coloring varies between the different types, yet yellow and black predominate.
The only functions of the male appear to be to mate with the female while still within the fig and to help her to escape to the outside.
Fig Wasp Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The many varieties of Fig Wasp, estimated to be in excess of 900, inhabit a wide variety of regions. Yet the tropics contain the greatest percentage of any type of environment.
However, the majority evolved as tropical species, although two inhabit regions of North America.
The female burrows into the syconium of a fig tree to lay her eggs. And in doing so, she deposits pollen from other fig trees, thus pollinating the tree.
After laying the eggs, the female unfortunately dies. Nature can be cruel.
After the larvae hatch, the males begin burrowing out of the fig. They then mate with the female, exit the fig, and die soon after.