Believe it or not, but it is very likely that you’ve eaten a dead wasp if your a big fan of figs, and it has to do with how they pollinate.
Figs are some of nature’s most incredible, and complex, fruits there is. While most fruits come from flowers, a fig is actually a collection of flowers that are blooming inwards.
However, this nature makes it hard for them to reproduce and pollinate. How do you pollinate a flower that’s hidden? Simple, wasps.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) September 4, 2018
Each of the 750-plus specie of fig plants have a dedicated species of wasps that take on the responsibility of pollination, and it costs them their lives.
Here’s how it happens:
A pregnant female wasp finds an unripe male fig to lay her eggs in. When she finds one, she enters and lays her eggs inside the flowers, accidentally dropping pollen into some along the way. When the eggs hatch, the men use the little life they have to impregnate the female wasps (before they even hatch) and use the remaining time they have left to burrow holes into the fig.
As for the female wasps, when they hatch, already pregnant, they exist the fig through the holes the male burrowed, and proceed to find their own fight to lay their eggs in.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) August 30, 2018
Inconveniently for the female wasps, on the way into the new fig, they lose their wings and antenna, and become trapped inside the fig and die.
But these are male figs, unlike the figs we eat. However, some females make mistakes and end up in female figs, die and decompose slowly, waiting for you to pluck it and eat it.
Here’s Anna from Gross Science to explain more: