Jungle Dave a professional wildlife tour guide based at Meriuk Farm Stay (Wasai Bedanu)  in Tutong, Brunei carrying out an experiment on 01 December 2017 with ripe male Ficus lepicarpa figs. The intention is to find out if the emerging female fig wasps head towards the smell of a captive tame white mouse. The plastic container on the left houses the mouse whilst the container on the right is empty.


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The experiment was repeated several times with different F. lepicarpa figs  and appeared to show that given the choice the female fig wasps had a preference  for the  mouse rather than the empty container. Several times the fig wasps landed on the mouse and buried themselves in the fur. However the mouse was constantly grooming itself. If a  fig wasp landed on a bat in flight it would be unable to groom until it landed. 

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Female fig wasps emerging from ripe male figs appeared to head towards  a mouse rather than an empty container.

It must be emphasized that at the present time these simple experiments are not conclusive and do not prove anything as they were not carried out in lab conditions with sufficient controls. For instance the fig wasps may be attracted towards differences in light or movement  or even different smells or multiple combinations of these different factors.

The reason this article is published now is to encourage other  fig researchers in Borneo  and elsewhere to carry out further more detailed and better controlled experiments to better understand fig wasp dispersal ecology.

Davis & Durden (1993) Are Fig wasps Hitch-Hikers ?

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Article copied form the Borneo Research Bulletin Vol.25 (19930 Page 133 pages 133-135.

Conclusion:  There is much anecdotal evidence that if Davis and Durden’s  hypothesis is correct the most successful long distance transporters of fig wasps are likely to be  fruit bats. The most likely fig wasps are those that pollinate  dioecious bat dispersed figs such as F. lepicarpa, F. fistulosa and F. septica all of which are abundant inhabitants of the understorey of lowland forest in Borneo.  See this article about the early colonization of the Krakatau islands by bat dispersed fig trees.