Bird Families

Fig Wasp: We Eat Hundreds of Them and We Don't Even Know It

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Many of us, having got out to the south, love to pamper ourselves with the gifts of the local flora. Today we will talk about such a fruit as a fig. But, since we are the Book of Animals, not Plants, the main character of our article will be his fearless pollinator - fig wasp ... Put the stress yourself, and we start.

What do we know about figs, and where is some wasp? Let's get into the basics of botany: figs are a sweet fruit with crunchy bones. And everything would be fine, but the problem is that the flowers of this plant are turned inward. The fact, of course, is interesting, but how to pollinate in such conditions? This is where our today's friend comes to the rescue.

Due to the peculiarity of the structure of the fig fruit, insects simply cannot get to the sweetest thing - pollen. The fig wasp, being small but nosy, quickly realized that the insides of figs could be a great nursery school for their offspring.

The problem is that the passage to the nursery is very narrow. While the calculating mother gets to the right place, she loses her wings and antennae. This payment is for a cozy apartment for your little ones. The mother herself becomes a hostage of the sweet fruit, since she will no longer be able to get out of it.

But how does pollination occur if the wasp leaves this world without ever getting out? The mother's work is continued by her children. When the larvae grow up, the fertilized females leave the parental hut in search of a new home, simultaneously carrying fig pollen with them. And the males remain at home until the end of their days, with their mother, because they do not have wings. In figs, the corpses of fig wasps remain forever and in large quantities.

You will ask a fair question: with whom do the ladies mate if only brothers are their company? In general, they mate with them. For a fig wasp, incest is not a perversion, but a vital necessity. This is the only way insects are able to continue their genus.

Fortunately or unfortunately, for invertebrates, closely related relationships are not as bad as for us mammals. Genetic recombinations are enough to provide healthy offspring to wasps. Scientists also suggest that females practice multiple mating and are not limited to their relatives. When they fly into their new "home", the ladies also take courtship from the locals.

So, wait a second, does this mean that while eating, it is not the bones that crunch, but the remains of the wasps ?! I hasten to reassure - these are still seeds. Insect carcasses are processed into protein by plant enzymes. Now you know that along with the figs, you also eat the whole cemetery. Enjoy your meal!

The Book of Animals was with you.

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