[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mariner transposable elements are widespread and diverse in insects. We screened 10 species of fig wasps (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae) for mariner elements. All 10 species harbour a large diversity of mariner elements, most of which have interrupted reading frames in the transposase gene region, suggesting that they are inactive and ancient. We sequenced two full-length mariner elements and found evidence to suggest that they are inserted in the genome at a conserved region shared by other hymenopteran taxa. The association between mariner elements and fig wasps is old and dominated by vertical transmission, suggesting that these 'selfish genetic elements' have evolved to impart only very low costs to their hosts.