A recently hatched female Non Pollinating Fig Wasp (NPFW) sitting on a section through a “ripe” male Ficus septica fig at Deramakot in Sabah.
All photos by Chun Xing Wong of 1StopBorneo Wildlife.
Ficus septica is dioecious i.e. separate male and female fig trees. Dioecious trees respectively produce only male or female figs. Male figs act as brood chambers for (species specific) pollinating fig wasps and are parasitized by numerous species of NPFW.
With dioecious fig trees female figs produce seeds but not wasps. Pollinating fig wasps normally enter the interior of both male and female fig fruits through the hole (ostiole) at the far end of the fig. Most NPFW cannot enter inside the fig fruit through the ostiole because the bracts surrounding the ostiole tunnel act like a locked gate. Only pollinating fig wasps with the correct “key” can forced their way past the ostiolar bracts. The differing shapes of the mandibles of different species of fig wasps appear to act as the necessary key.
NPFW parasitize the male figs by using the long tube (ovipositer) on their rear end (gaster) to drill a hole through the fleshy wall of the fig and lay an egg inside one of the many ovaries of the tiny flowers that line the inner wall of the fig.
This parasitic female NPFW has just hatched and mated and was about to fly off to find another suitable fig at the right stage of ripeness so that it could drill a hole and insert it’s eggs into the interior of the host fig fruit.
The photo above shows the holes in the ovaries of the Ficus septica fig from which the NPFW has just emerged.