Love is in the air at the National Museum of Natural History! Our scientists are helping species look for love in this series of “dating profiles” to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Will #NMNHcupid help them find their one and only?
Screen name: LoveTheOneYoureWith
Species: Pleistodontes froggatti
Age: < 1 day
Location: Fig (Ficus macrophylla) in Ballina, New South Wales, Australia
Body Type: Tiny (1.5 mm), wingless, blind
About me: I am a male fig wasp. I just hatched from an egg my mom deposited inside the developing seed of a fig.
On a typical Friday, you’ll find me: In my fig. I spend my whole (brief) life within the same fig in which I was born, so you can actually find me there ANY day.
I’m looking for: My sisters. As I can’t leave my fig, I can’t be too picky about a mate (see my screen name).
I couldn’t do without: My fig. But it couldn’t do without me (or more accurately, my sisters) either. Since the fig’s flowers are inside the body cavity of the fig, its only source of outside pollen is that carried by a female wasp from her birth fig. The developing seeds lost to the emergence of my sisters and brothers are a small price to pay for the fig, since without us wasps, it wouldn’t be able to make any seeds at all!
I’m really good at: Chewing. I may be small and wingless, but I’m still a gentlemen. After mating, I gallantly chew a hole in the fig’s wall so my winged mates can get out and take their eggs (as well as pollen) into another fig.
By Erin Kolski, Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History