Figs and Wasps
Figs and fig wasps coexist in a symbiotic relationship. In order to reproduce, the fig needs to be pollinated by the wasp, which needs a place for its young to develop.
A fig fruit is essentially an enclosed inflorescence (bundle of flowers), with the reproductive organs located inside. This structure is known as the syconium. The inside of the syconium is lined with flowers.
The cycle begins with a mature female fig wasp. To lay her eggs inside the fig, she must enter it through a small opening in the syconium called the ostiole. This opening is so small that her wings and antennae get ripped off in the process. Once inside, there is no turning back.
Figs produce two types of syconium, the caprifigs (which have both male and female flowers), and the edible figs (which only have female flowers).
If an adult wasp enters a caprifig, she will lay her eggs inside the flowers of the syconium. This is possible because the flowers of the caprifig have short styles, with easily accessible ovaries. These eggs develop inside the ovaries into wasp larvae, and eventually, mature wasps.
The male wasps inside caprifigs are responsible for mating with the females and then digging tunnels out of the fig. The females escape through these tunnels, brushing against the pollen produced by the male flowers in the process.
If a female wasp enters an edible fig, she will be unable to deposit her eggs and will eventually die. This is because the flowers of edible figs have longs styles, which inhibit the wasp from depositing eggs. However, the female wasp carries pollen (remember that she had just escaped from a caprifig) and her activity inside the edible fig pollinates the female flowers.
The pollinated female flowers of the edible fig begin to develop into fruit. Meanwhile, the dead female wasp inside is decomposed by an enzyme known as ficin into proteins. This is absorbed by maturing fruit.
The fig fruits we see at the shops are the ripened fruit of edible figs. These figs do not have any wasps inside them because the wasps have been decomposed by the plant. The caprifigs may have live wasps inside them, but they are considered inedible.
Someone get this guy a tissue!!
The totally bizarre Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) drips foul-smelling ‘blood’ from its mouth to deter predators.
Ant mimicking tree hopper (Cymphonia clavata) -
Many insects and even some spiders mimic the ant. This tree hopper has a modified head shield that has evolved into a complex looking structure, and bears striking similarity to an ant. The rest of its body is a subtle pale yellow or green, to blend in with its environment. The reason why their helmets look like the ant would be crawling backwards is because ants face the threat with their jaws, and retreat backwards.
Tree hoppers of all species have various helmet shapes and some of them grow to be very ornate whilst others use them for camouflage. During their evolution, tree hoppers have lost use of their wings, which allow for much more complex helmet variations, because their bodies don’t need to get airborne.
Adaptations such as this (called body plan innovation), where an entirely new appendage is developed to aid survival is a rare occurrence in evolution.
Go Green Tip 24: Refuse disposable plastic & reduce your plastic footprint
There is a garbage patch (2200km long, 800 km wide & 10 meters deep) floating in the North Pacific Gyre, which mainly consists of petroleum-based plastic. The North Pacific Gyre is an area of swirling currents moving in a clockwise pattern that the major ocean currents lead into.
80% of the garbage in our oceans comes from land (household & municipal waste) and 20% from ships. All of the plastics and garbage intentionally & accidentally dumped into our oceans has found its way to the North Pacific Gyre and remains there.
The scary thing is that all the plastic ever created still exists. Plastic can’t biodegrade; plastic photodegrades which means it breaks down into smaller pieces, which is still plastic. In the ocean there is 6 times more plastic than plankton. In the Middle of the North Pacific Gyre the ratio increases to 1000-1.
Every year plastic kills 1.5 million marine animals. Fish and other mammals are ingesting plastic particles at such a rate that soon they will no longer be safe to eat. Next time you’re about to take a disposable plastic item, you’ll take a moment to and consider where the plastic ends up as less than 5% of plastic is recycled.
One of the reasons I can’t stand littering, either.
This is why every time I’m out somewhere that’s not near a bin, I put the litter in my pocket, or my bag, and wait until I get to a bin… I also make anyone who’s with me put the litter in the bag/pocket and wait until we find a bin.
Seriously it’s not even that hard to do, hold onto your fucking rubbish and bin it, don’t throw it down.