Are There Dead Wasps In Figs? | Gross Science


Figs are one of my favorite foods. They’re sweet and floral, and there’s something
about the texture that I find so delightful—the outside is soft, but the seeds in the middle
give you this totally satisfying crunch. But it turns out that many species of figs
contain the bodies of dead wasps. I’m Anna and this is Gross Science. Figs aren’t exactly your typical fruit. You can think of them as packages that contain
all of the fig tree’s flowers within them. But if the flowers are trapped inside the
fig how do they get pollinated? Well, that’s where fig wasps come in. In most species, pregnant female fig wasps
carrying pollen are attracted to young figs. They enter through a tiny opening at the fig’s
bottom that’s highly selective—it usually only lets in the exact species of wasps that
pollinate it. But, even the pollinators have a hard time
getting in. Most lose their wings and antennae in the
process. The wasp’s goal is to find a home for her
babies. And the perfect home is inside the fig’s
female flowers—those are the ones that would produce seeds if they were fertilized. So, the mama wasp drops a fertilized egg inside
as many of the female flowers as she can—sometimes, up to a few hundred. But she can’t get to all of them. Along the way, she winds up fertilizing the
rest of the flowers with the fig pollen she’s carrying, and those flowers begin developing
seeds. Once the wasp is finished laying eggs, she
usually dies inside the fig. Each baby wasp begins to grow, encased in
a protective structure that the plant forms called a gall. The male wasps mature first. When they emerge, they find the galls of the
female wasps, many of whom are their sisters, poke inside, and impregnate them before they’ve
even hatched! Then, the males die inside the fig, but not
before boring tiny holes through the fig’s skin. When the females do emerge, the fig has just
started producing pollen. The female wasps pick up some of that pollen
before making their way through the holes their brothers drilled, and go off to find
a new fig to start the cycle again. But the story’s not over. At this point, our fig’s seeds are finally
mature and ready to be planted. And that happens when the ripe fig is eaten
by animals, which poop out the seeds, spreading fig plants far and wide. Of course, humans eat figs, too. So, when you bite into a fig are you actually
eating the bodies of dead wasps? Well, if you’re getting your figs from the
supermarket, then most likely not. See, humans and figs have a really long history—we’ve
probably been domesticating them for over 11,000 years. So, while there are over 750 species in the
world, most of the figs we eat are a species called the “common fig,” which humans
have had a huge hand in creating. In fact, some common figs are seedless and
don’t require pollination at all. Other varieties of common fig do need to be
pollinated, but have separate male and female trees, and we only eat fruits from the female
ones. I’ll put a link in the description to a
great explanation of how common fig pollination happens, but long story short, female wasps
can only manage to lay eggs in the the figs from male trees, not female ones. But they can’t tell the difference between
the two types of trees. So, if a wasp does enter a female fruit, she’ll
pollinate it, and either manage to escape or die inside the fig. And then that fig might make it to your table. Frankly, one wasp here and there isn’t enough
to deter me from eating these things. But if you’re still feeling squeamish, just
think about it this way: by eating that fig, you’re benefitting from a complex and in my
view, beautiful partnership—or, what’s called a “mutualism”— between two very
different species. One that’s been delicately crafted by around
90 million years of evolution. And that certainly whets my appetite—at
least for curiosity, if not for dinner. MMMM! But also ew.

100 Comments

  1. Star Love

    July 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you for the information. I grew up eating wild figs. I peel the skin off. We don't eat them with the skin on unless they are dried. They are delicious.

  2. Harley Carmichael

    July 20, 2019 at 5:52 am

    Never eating a fig again wtf i loved them 😭😭😭

  3. Tony Bacon

    July 20, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Some of your facts are grossly wrong.

  4. Itzz Zodiac

    July 21, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Well any fruit or vegetable will have bugs if there rotten

  5. JRR31984

    July 22, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Lol you definitely were cautious at eating that fig at the end 🙂 (not the first I heard of this but better explanation on your part, if I remember correctly– so do I blame ya at the end? no)

  6. SWEATYfdplayer4 1

    July 22, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Hmmm wasps have sex in figs???🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

  7. Röv

    July 23, 2019 at 12:11 am

    Male fig wasp impregnates sister wasp

    SWEET HOME ALABAMA

  8. MiKyahl

    July 23, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    That wasp is probably the best thing for your guts..Sweet protein. I would bet the t 95% of the people eat lobster which is a distant relative to the Cock-Roach…They have some of the same DNA Structure. So if you eat sea roaches then a few wasp won't hurt you.

  9. Chicken hard Sushi

    July 23, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    If you’re starving, you don’t think about bugs in food

  10. Flam bert

    July 23, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    That cycle was darrrrk and sad

  11. Joshua LeonardoASMR

    July 24, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I always thought figs were gross. They don´t have a definitive flavor like a mango or an orange. It just tastes like gritty, sugar ball to me.

  12. Aspirative Music Production

    July 25, 2019 at 4:45 am

    Is there transgender fig?

  13. King Inferno

    July 27, 2019 at 4:11 am

    Fig gang strong

  14. Jun Kurosu

    July 27, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    I liked Figs

  15. Hannah-Kaye Sutherland

    July 28, 2019 at 5:30 am

    Ewww 🤢 🤢

  16. GravityArts_LHF

    July 28, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    I ate like 20 figs before this lol

  17. derek ray

    July 31, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    There is a lot of food that contains little bugs and bug pieces. Especially processed food.

  18. Elaine Morgan

    August 1, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Figgin hell!

  19. Scard4Life

    August 1, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Me: Eats Fig

    I’m about to end this wasps whole career.

  20. Oh Yeah yeah

    August 1, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Fig+wasp=thanos

  21. Rachel Blurr

    August 2, 2019 at 1:02 am

    Great explanation but nature is really complex 😅

  22. Mewtwo

    August 2, 2019 at 2:21 am

    I’ll just eat them

  23. LHML 123

    August 2, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I am watching this while eating a fig 😂😂

  24. Sarah Presnell

    August 2, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    i just ate 2 figs like five minutes ago… and I'm now just learning about this… i want to die

  25. tady agha

    August 2, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    I was just eating over 6 figs at the time i was watching this cheese 😐

  26. Adrian Sinanaj

    August 3, 2019 at 12:07 am

    Thanks. I hate it

  27. c r a b

    August 3, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    My figs are green

  28. c r a b

    August 3, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Extra protein

  29. Dennis Chapel

    August 3, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    This is BS,
    Not all figs need fig wasps because many varieties have evolved to be self pollinating. This video covers the types that are capri figs (ones that require fig wasps to pollinate). Fig wasps do not exist in most parts of the USA and most fig varieties cultivated in the USA are not capri figs..

  30. depresso

    August 8, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Wasp: fig better chill tf out before it catch this pollen

  31. Jonathan Joestar

    August 10, 2019 at 5:07 am

    2:04 sweet home alabama!

  32. Rahul Sondhi

    August 11, 2019 at 4:35 am

    I don't eat meat, and Figs are uhm uhm were one of my favorite fruits, fresh and dried.
    Now I am gonna make fun of others who don't know. They are eating wasps.

  33. username

    August 11, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    so it is extra natural source, right?

  34. Timothy Bowers

    August 11, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    I love your science all the way til you started injecting evolution in !!! We all know that evolution is a human thought up theory not truth same as the other ways people theory about. So please kill the evolution speech !!! I never was a ape and don’t have ape like strengths

  35. 달의 아이

    August 12, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Well now we know what rape is like in the animal world😑😑😑

  36. Renee S

    August 13, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Is she trying to talk me into being ok with eating dead wasps inside my fruit??

  37. OriginalPrincess32

    August 14, 2019 at 2:11 am

    Very informative. In fact, too damn informative 🤬

  38. Le Kien

    August 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Male wasp: sees his sisters who are not yet born
    Also male wasp: I'm about to end this women's whole career

  39. Sierra Larzelere

    August 17, 2019 at 1:13 am

    So does the wasp disolve and become a part of the plant or is a body just chilling in the fruit?

  40. Cheryl Hoech

    August 17, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    in dioecuous species of fig trees, no figs form on a male tree, do they? What do the male flowers look like?

  41. Døg Łover

    August 18, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Male wasp: Hey there little girl

    Ant-man: ew! You get away from that young wasp! Here take a card because NO MEANS NO!

    if you get that reference…you’re worthy

  42. Noble Hill

    August 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you! I think! Ha ha !! Oh! Lord, i just planted 9 fig trees!

  43. yung cash register

    August 18, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    the wasp is the best part!

  44. Titanus Godzilla Fan

    August 20, 2019 at 3:54 am

    I just ate 2 figs lol

  45. Jordynn Bow

    August 21, 2019 at 3:05 am

    Mom: buys dove 🕊 soap 🧼 that are made with figs
    Me: https://youtu.be/wkYCm2nr7Dw

  46. Jericho

    August 23, 2019 at 3:53 am

    4:39 when you try to eat the booty

  47. Antoni Gates

    August 23, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    People eat wasps and pupa; it’s not exactly disgusting.

  48. Coltafanan Studios

    August 24, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    That is a very convoluted way to pollinate a plant.

  49. Taran966

    August 25, 2019 at 1:11 am

    For goodness sake people in the comments the female fig can produce enzymes which digest the wasps inside the fig when they’re dead. It digests every last speck, even atom of the wasp, probably the bacteria too. It then uses the nutrients to ripen more and make seeds.

  50. Marie Vanpeski

    August 27, 2019 at 10:01 am

    eugh! just watched all this after munching on fresh figs from my tree,,think Ill be cutting them in half from now on to check for dead wasps,

  51. Liberalism is a disease.

    August 27, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    There is 140 fly eggs allowed in 1tbs of ketchup. USDA standard.

  52. Dr.Ir. Mimit Primyastanto, MP

    August 28, 2019 at 7:07 am

    1. By the fig, and the olive,

    2. By Mount Sinai,

    3. And by this city of security (Makkah) ,

    4. Verily, We created man of the best stature (mould),

    5. Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low,

    6. Save those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous deeds, then they shall have a reward without end (Paradise).

    7. Then what (or who) causes you (O disbelievers) to deny the Recompense (i.e. Day of Resurrection)?

    8. Is not Allah the Best of judges? (Q.S. 95 : 1-8)

  53. chys101

    August 29, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Who cares , can't stop eating figs ..Wasp makes the figs tastier. YUMMY

  54. Samya Alvarez Jimenez

    August 29, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    I mean the dead wasp doesn't bother me at all. The larva does. Ew

  55. Abcdefg

    August 30, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    ppl are like "same as bread,rice etc" but i dont cut open bread and see larvae crawling around in it like lol it is very different. glad never ate one.

  56. Perversia

    September 1, 2019 at 1:42 am

    I'll just eat strawberries or cherries or watermelon and what have you…I thought figs were gross even before I knew of the wasps. No thanks.

  57. Perversia

    September 1, 2019 at 1:45 am

    I hope I make such a cute noise when I die. I have been obsessed with dying lately… I hate figs.

  58. Ravedaze

    September 1, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Extra protein

  59. T S

    September 1, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    I will never eat a fig again

  60. dwi ari ismu rini

    September 2, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    insert Sweet Home Alabama here

  61. Savage _Worm

    September 3, 2019 at 7:35 am

    I was eating figs while watching this …😟

  62. Ben Silashi

    September 3, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    I'm done with figs. Thanks though

  63. thestranger gacha

    September 4, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Figs are made from insect uron it was urine or body's…

  64. UninstallingWindows

    September 4, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    wait wait…so…there is also a chance that we are eating a bunch of fly eggs too ?

  65. SovietTricycle

    September 6, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    The only fig I’ve eaten was a fig newton

  66. sarк

    September 7, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Okay, dead wasp inside my figs but is that a plant inside a shoe behind you?

  67. Brine Shrimp

    September 9, 2019 at 1:11 am

    In the US fig wasps only exist in parts of California. Figs grown in the rest of the US are self fertile with no need for a wasp. This shocking disinformation is constantly spread about figs containing wasp remains. I am a fig farmer in Texas. I have several decadently delicious variety's in my organic food forest with the closest fig wasp 1500 miles away in CA. Some are honey flavored, berry flavored, some as big as a golf ball. If you want to avoid wasps don't buy figs from California, or figs grown abroad.

  68. JuseBeats

    September 9, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Why do people say evolution like it's fact? It's a Theory. A week theory that Darwin even realized was bull if there was no proof of in between transition species. The only thing that makes sense is a creator. Because how would the evolution take place? Who is conveying the information?So too bad so sad you non thinking atheists 😂.

  69. Alexander Hong

    September 9, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    There’s dead fish in my sushi 😓

  70. Jonah K

    September 10, 2019 at 12:11 am

    Untainted figs are actually odorless and tasteless. It's the wasp larvae that gives it its delicious flavor.

  71. Rafael Rabinovich

    September 13, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Just cut open the fig and check inside!

  72. Mahir Shahriyar

    September 14, 2019 at 7:06 am

    So wasps are the masters of incest pedophilia. Mother Nature is weird!😟

  73. rov3na1

    September 15, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Well, I guess I'm not a real vegetarian 😣😷😷😷😷

  74. Phillip Teagarden

    September 16, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    'The fig is an insect whorehouse!

  75. TIM PALMER

    September 17, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Im eating figs right now….bleh

  76. Allison Dan

    September 18, 2019 at 12:54 am

    This comment section is hilarious

  77. Houndstooth

    September 19, 2019 at 6:03 am

    Have only ate Fig Newtons never the fruit itself.

  78. lando hoth

    September 19, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Damn this is brutal

  79. unknown

    September 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    That's figgin disgusting

  80. Brailey Wallace

    September 23, 2019 at 1:47 am

    There’s dead chickens in KFC so nobody rlly cares xd

  81. Noel Hamilton

    September 23, 2019 at 9:12 am

    A figment of your fertile mind thanks

  82. Noah Smith

    September 23, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    There are unfertilized dinosaurs in my cake.

  83. Cream Cotton

    September 25, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I was watching this and my sister was in the room and she overheard the wasp impregnation thing and she was like "wtf are you watching"

  84. Olivia Dyck

    September 26, 2019 at 1:41 am

    I'm eating figs right now…

  85. Steven Taylor Torres

    September 26, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I miss my fig tree

  86. fortnite vaulted

    September 26, 2019 at 9:34 am

    anyone else see the shoe with plant in it in the back round

  87. Moldy Trash

    September 28, 2019 at 10:38 am

    So….. male Wasps impregnate their unborn underaged sister?

    And I thought hentai was weird

  88. derpmexican 9000

    September 30, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Imagine eating the stinger by accident

  89. Sir Blank Face

    September 30, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Fig bars are now ruined. I guess that's why Newtons took the "fig" out their name.

  90. Serenitie3

    October 1, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    0:52 my life lowkey

  91. AdmiralZhao007

    October 4, 2019 at 1:00 am

    damn crimson chin wtf u doin

  92. Jag Azzy

    October 4, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Fig=incest orgy

  93. Karl Aug

    October 4, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    So what species of " Common Figs " don't need female trees to pollinate that are safe to eat and would they be the ones ppl. plant in their yards ?.

  94. REE squad

    October 5, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    The dead wasp gives you more protein and stuff that makes the fig even more delicious to eat lol

  95. Peanut

    October 6, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Bro they're dead anyway eat them

  96. Mista Dorvilus

    October 6, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    True I don’t eat that ewww 🦹‍♀️ muahahah

  97. Melak _kadhim

    October 7, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Wow I don't want to eat one anymore W.W

  98. Pøtãtø Quëëñ

    October 7, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    So their life lasts like a week?

  99. Rigel Scut1

    October 10, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    literally eats it

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