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Exploring Fig Wasps

Figs can be enormous park trees or small fruit trees, and whatever the plant’s size they produce unusual fruit which have a specific arrangement with a little wasp.

Did you know that the fig fruit is actually a bunch of internal flowers and is home to wasp eggs and larvae?

This relationship is called mutualism and benefits the plant by providing pollination, and benefits wasps by providing a safe nursery for their babies. Each different type of fig has its own unique fig wasp species. The male wasp spends its whole life inside the fig and then dies after it’s made a tunnel out for the female to fly away!

Find out more about the Moreton Bay Fig.


Watch the fig wasps up close inside a fig.

Activities - Exploring Fig Wasps

1. Imagine life inside a fig

Watch the video of the fig wasps living inside a fig. Think about and write down some words to describe what it might feel like inside the fig. 

2. Read and act

Read the Waspy World story below, which includes images of the fig wasp's life cycle. Pretend you are Flo and act out her life as it is read to you or as you read it yourself.

Waspy World

Page 1

This is Flo and this is Fig.
Fig needs Flo and Flo needs Fig.

Page 2

When it's time to lay her eggs, Flo finds Fig and crawls inside.
But believe me she's not trying to hide!

Page 3

She squeezes through a tiny hole.
Her wings fall off; it takes its toll.

Page 4

Once inside she lays her eggs.
She'll live inside till the very end.

Page 5

Then the eggs hatch and new wasps arrive.
It's time to mate and dance a jive.

Page 6

The males dig a tunnel out.
But without wings they cannot leave.
So, the girls say thanks and out they weave.

Page 7

Off they fly to find a fig.
Because Fig needs Flo and Flo needs Fig!.

Page 8

Because why does Fig need Flo you say?
Well, Flo brings pollen...
Hooray! Hooray!

3. Correct order game 

Look at the Life Cycle of a Fig Wasp diagram. See if you can then drag the illustrations in to the correct order.

Diagram showing the lifecycle of a fig wasp

4. Think deeper

The Waspy World story showed how the fig and wasp need each other. Can you remember what word describes this special relationship? Can you find examples of other relationships like this in nature? (Hint: sharks and ?; ants and ?; fruit bats and ?) 

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