Fig Trees Kill Larval Insects?
Plants and insects have co-evolved for millions and millions of years. We all know that bees, for example, help plants fertilize by transferring pollen from flower to flower, and in return, they get nectar from the plants.
According to an article online, when wasps lay their eggs inside figs but fail to pollinate the plant, the fig tree drops the larvally-inhabited fig to the ground, killing the larvae.
This may seem like an act of revenge on behalf of the fig tree, but is it really? The fig-wasp relationship initially evolved as a mutualistic one, providing services on both ends. The wasp obtains a suitable home for its larvae to grow and hatch from, and the fig tree gets pollinated.
If one end of the deal isn’t upheld, it is at a cost to the other party. The relationship reaches an imbalance as figs are energetically exploited as they house a parasite. To restore to imbalance and maintain the relationship, the figs simply dispose of a “selfish” wasp’s quite possibly “selfish” offspring.
You can read more here.
Article: “Study: Trees retaliate when fig wasps don’t service them,” Cornell Chronicle
Image Credit: Copyright Christian Ziegler, www.naturphoto.de