Fig Wasp - Agaoninae Click to enlarge image
Fig Wasp - Agaoninae Image: Vuk Vojisavljevic
© CC BY-SA

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Subfamily
    Agaoninae
    Family
    Agaonidae
    Super Family
    Chalcidoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    1.5 mm

Introduction

Some native Australian fig trees need fig wasps for successful pollination and the wasps rely on the tree to complete their lifecycle. This relationship has evolved to the point where the tree and the wasp are completely dependent on each other.

Identification

Male fig wasps are wingless, a golden-brown colour and have an under-turned 'tail'; females have wings and a long head.

Habitat

Fig wasps live in urban areas, forests and woodlands and anywhere native fig trees are found.

Distribution

Fig wasps are found throughout Australia.

Life history cycle

After mating inside a fig, which contains the minute flowers, the pollen-laden female flies off to find another fig. She burrows into it with her long head and sometimes loses her wings and antennae in the process. She then attempts to lay her eggs inside the flowers and, in the process, pollinates them with pollen from the last fig she visited. The fig tree chemically detects the presence of the egg and surrounds it with plant tissue. This provides the larva, which hatches inside the fig, with enough food to grow and restart the cycle.

The males spend their entire yet short lives inside the fig, where they mate with females and die soon after.