© 2018 by Coffee & Flowers

From death comes life - The fig and the fig wasp

I'm not sure what has brought it on but I have gone a little fig crazy recently, from fiddle fig trees to fig tattoos and now - today the life cycle of the fig wasp and fig painted on to my nails, the latter a little less permanent!

My earliest memory of figs is my Dede brushing the ants off a freshly plucked fig from his tree, he would tare it in half, a half for him and a half for me and I would protest that figs were icky.

I now love figs, for the taste of the fruit, the feel of the thick green leaves and the dependant relationship between the fig and the fig wasps, a beautiful representation of death breathing new life.

Like all plants figs need to be pollinated. The fig contains a tiny flower which must be pollinated i order for its fruit to ripen, when its ready for pollination it produces a strong scent which draws in a female wasp - all perfectly normal at the point but this is there the story turns a little macabre. The wasp crawls in to the tiny opening at the base of the fruit, a hole so small that her wings and antennae break off as she enters.

She lays her eggs inside the flowers in the fig, spreading pollen as she goes, this is essential to the fig as without it the fruit will not ripen. Flowers containing wasp eggs wont mature in to figs so don’t worry, you arnt going to finding wasp babies in your fig - The female wasp then dies and her body is absorbed by the fig for nourishment.

But what about the babies? They turn in to wormlike grubs and first, and then take on the features of an adult wasp. The males have dark heads and clear amber bodies, they don’t have wings because these guys are never going to leave the fig. Females are larger they have dark heads and dark bodies.

So right now, your thinking these female wasps get a rough time? their only job is to pollinate a fig and in the process they get parts of their body ripped off, well the male wasps don't get it much easier. As soon as the females reach maturity they mate with the male and after mating the male wasps create a hole in the fig that will allow the female wasps to leave in this process the males wasps too die!

The female wasp then leaves the fig ready to enter the next fig which she will pollinate and the story starts over again.

There we have it, the cycle of the fig and the fig wasp, both needing each other for their mutual survival.

Also a huge thank you to both Gav and Jess for indulging me with my requests for them to create art for my body.

Nails by @honestlyombre

Ink by @Avian_White