Life and Death of a fig wasp

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Fig: a hollow, round structure that holds the flowers of a fig tree and which is later filled with the sweet and seedy fig fruit.

Pollinate: moving pollen from the male to the female component of a flower as part of the fertilization process in plants. Birds and insects often move pollen from flower to flower when gathering nectar and they are therefore called pollinators... more

Figs Without Wasps?

sliced fig

Most commercial figs, like the ones you buy at the store, are grown without wasps.

While wasp bodies may add some crunch to a tasty fig, you probably won’t find a wasp inside a fig you are about to eat, even if you look really hard.

Some types of fig that are grown for human consumption have figs that ripen without pollination. It is also possible to trick plants into ripening figs without wasps by spraying them with plant hormones.

Even when figs are grown the old-fashioned way, with wasps, the wasp is long gone by the time the fig crosses your lips. Figs produce a chemical called “ficin” that breaks down the wasp bodies. Ficin is so effective at breaking down, or digesting, animal proteins that natives of Central America eat fig sap to treat intestinal worm infections.

fig newtons

So, no, those fig-filled cookies you bought at the store are not full of dead wasps. But don’t despair. If you’re really interested in eating insects, Ask-A-Biologist has some great suggestions.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Figs Without Wasps?
  • Author(s): Dani Moore
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: October 11, 2012
  • Date accessed: July 15, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Dani Moore. (2012, October 11). Figs Without Wasps?. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved July 15, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Dani Moore. "Figs Without Wasps?". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 11 October, 2012.

MLA 2017 Style

Dani Moore. "Figs Without Wasps?". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 11 Oct 2012. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 15 Jul 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
Luis Melendez fig painting
Figs are so common that people even make art that features figs. This painting by Luis Meléndez is called Still Life with Figs and Bread.

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