Urban legends about bugs in bananas and bees in figs got we wondering how many of these "urban legends" are factless or, -are they partially based upon truth?
You Ate a Bug and Didn’t Even Notice it
On the transit bus the other day I overheard some teenage girls excitedly prattling-on about urban legends of insects that end up in your food. I’ve heard most of these legends myself as a teenager.
While there is a certain truth to some of that (The USDA allows a certain number of insect parts per bag of pasta noodles, etc.) for the most part, it is just that. An urban legend. At least, within the context of that particular conversation was going.
However, there ARE bugs in even the best consumer food products you buy. Grade “U.S. #1″ ketchup, the highest grade that there is, has as many as 30 fruit-fly eggs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) according to this report cited from the Dept. of Entomology NCSU.
Swallowed Spiders and other Myths
I’ve heard that tale before, about those alleged spiders that humans swallow every night. The legend goes that they run in and out of your open mouth while you sleep, attracted by the carbon dioxide you exhale and the moisture in your mouth. That you swallow “three spiders per night” being the oft-cited number. And let’s not forget the urban legend of the banana spider ‘little black dot’ eggs in the core of over-ripe bananas.
A ‘Bugs in Food’ Urban Myth that is True
Well one alleged urban legend about insects in food is actually corect; wasps in figs.
Wasps in Fig Fruits: Mutualism in Nature
As a normal part of the life-cycle of both figs and fig wasps. Yes, this urban legend is true.
Through a process called Mutualism, these specialized wasps have an essential role to play and without them there would be no figs. There are two kinds of figs, a male ‘caprifig’ and the female ‘edible fig.’ The female fig wasp (carrying pollen on her body) will access the male fig (caprifig) while it is still in the pre-fruit stage (basically, a bundle that is as much flower still and it is pre-fruit) and bore a hole to its middle. Here, she will deposit her eggs. The pollen on her body fertilizes the fruit and begins its development.