Insects and Other Animals
Associated with Ficus (Fig) Trees

Fig tree

There are at least 600 species of Ficus distributed in the tropical, subtropical and mild temperate regions of the world. Their flowers, which develop within syconia, are pollinated by wasps of the family Agaonidae. Syconia are the "fruits" of fig trees. Agaonidae seem to be highly host-specific, so that in general one Ficus species is pollinated by one species of Agaonidae. There is a mutualistic relationship between Agaonidae and Ficus.

The syconia are inhabited also by numerous organisms (nematodes, mites, flies, wasps, and beetles) with a high level of host-specificity. The behavior of the agaonids has been a subject of great ecological and ethological interest since the early 1980s. The other organisms have received less attention, but their interactions with agaonids have more recently been scrutinized. Dispersal of the seeds is aided by birds and mammals which eat the syconia but do not, in general, destroy the seeds.

One species of Ficus - Ficus carica (edible fig) - is important as a fruit tree. Other species of Ficus have been important as ornamental plants. Their leaves are attacked by various insects which may be viewed as pests. More recently, some "ornamental" Ficus species transported to various parts of the world have been viewed as weeds because they are being pollinated by their specific pollinators which somehow have likewise traveled about the world - thus, three Ficus species have become invasive weeds in southern Florida.

Here is a link to Figweb
( )
It contains information about Afrotropical fig wasps and has a bibliography to the worldwide literature about figs and fig wasps.

Plant and Insect Associations

This site is maintained by Howard Frank, Professor Emeritus, Entomology & Nematology Department, University of Florida (