National Geographic : 1997 Apr
The hidden world of the fig ife, death, and battles for dominance take center stage in the confines of a fig. A gravid female wasp begins the cycle by transporting pollen from male flowers growing inside the fig where she hatched. Flying to another tree, she enters the ostiole at the end of an unripened fig. Losing her wings as she squirms through the fig's skin, the wasp navigates the labyrinth within. She moves from one flower to the next, laying a single egg when her ovipositor can reach the flower's ovary and depositing pollen everywhere. Fertilized ovaries without eggs will produce seeds. When the female wasp completes her task, she dies. One of her offspring, a female (A) covered with pollen, wrig gles through a tunnel opened by a male that has hatched before her. Guided by chemical attrac tants, she flicks her wings (B) and darts off to start the cycle again in another fig. Competition for space is fierce in this small world. Opportunis tic wasp species also lay eggs in the unripe figs. This female (C) will use her long ovipositor to lay her eggs without ever entering or pollinating-the fig. A male fighting wasp (D), also an opportunist, emerges from a fig. His enlarged mandibles may have served him inside in a battle over mates, but-winner or loser-he will take only a step or two before he dies.