As you probably already know, plants and insects have a very important relationship. The plant gives out nectar, and in return, the insect pollinates the plant. But what happens if the bug doesn't live up to its side of the bargain? What's the plant going to do about it? File a complaint? Ask him to leave? The bugs pretty much get the sweet end of this deal. They get to eat for free, and maybe they'll deliver some pollen ... if they feel up to it after their nap.
Fig trees don't take that kind of thing lying down.
They take it hanging down.
Fig trees have a partnership with a particular wasp called a fig wasp. The wasp needs the plant because it needs food, and it lays its eggs in the fruit. In exchange, the wasp is expected to pollinate that fruit while it's there so the tree can reproduce. Fig trees can't reproduce without the wasps, wasps can't live without the tree. But that brings us back to the old problem: What if a particular wasp just doesn't give a shit? He eats the fruit and does whatever he wants, right?
Nope. The fig tree will get back at it by murdering its family.
"Those are some nice eggs. Pity if anything were to happen while they were inside my body."
Researchers experimented with this by introducing non-productive wasps (that is, wasps that weren't carrying pollen) to fig fruit. The bugs went about their business and laid eggs. However, most of the time the unpollenated fruit was dropped early, killing the wasp larvae within.
That's right -- the fig tree was aborting the young of wasps that did not pollinate them. Somehow, the plant knows when there are insects in its individual fruit, and it also knows if they brought pollen with them. And if they don't, then they get evicted ... street style.
"Figs play for keeps, motherfucker."
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