Life and Death of a fig wasp

show/hide words to know

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.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Figs Without Wasps?
  • Author(s): Dr. Biology
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: October 11, 2012
  • Date accessed: April 20, 2018
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/figs-without-wasps

APA Style

Dr. Biology. (2012, October 11). Figs Without Wasps?. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/figs-without-wasps

American Psychological Association. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Chicago Manual of Style

Dr. Biology. "Figs Without Wasps?". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 11 October, 2012. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/figs-without-wasps

MLA 2017 Style

Dr. Biology. "Figs Without Wasps?". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 11 Oct 2012. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 20 Apr 2018. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/figs-without-wasps

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/
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.

Be Part of
Ask A Biologist

By volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteers page to get the process started.

Donate icon  Contribute

Share this page:

 

Share to Google Classroom



Share to Google Classroom