Questions and Answers about Flies and Ants

Q&A: Basics about flies and ants.
Questions and Answers about Flies and Ants - Articles

Updated: August 8, 2017

Questions and Answers about Flies and Ants

Flies

  • Why are there so many flies? A female fly can lay hundreds of eggs. Each egg can develop into a fly in only a few days. If there is the right kind of food for the flies to eat, millions of flies can appear in a short time.
  • How long to flies live? An adult fly lives about 2 weeks.
  • Do all flies lay eggs? Most flies lay eggs, but some give birth to live maggots.
  • What happens if I accidentally eat a fly's egg? Nothing will happen to you if you eat a fly egg. The fly egg will die. Question from North Carolina.
  • Why do flies have hairs on their legs? Flies have hairs on their legs for several reasons. The hairs may act as tiny 'feelers.' If the hair is touched the fly will feel it. Hairs are used to dissipate heat. Hairs provide more surface area to get rid of heat. Small hairs near the base of the leg let the fly know what position his leg is in. These are some of the functions. Question from Scotland.
  • How many legs does a fly have? A fly has six legs when it is an adult, but no legs when it is a larva. Question from Texas.
  • What does a fly eat? There many hundreds of species of flies. Each species has different feeding habits. For instance, mosquitoes, a type of fly feeds on detritus in the water when it is a larva and suck blood when it is an adult. Another fly, the tachinid eats other insects when it is a larva and feeds on flower nectar when it is an adult. The fly you may see in your home, the housefly, feeds on rotting garbage when it is a larva and various liquids and sweet substances when it is an adult. Question from New York City
  • Do flies see color? Most flies can see color. Seeing color helps them find food and places to lay eggs. Question from Bohol, Phillipines. Where are queen ants legs? The queen ant has six legs. The legs are attached to the body at the thorax. Question from Indiana.
  • Do flies eat both plants and animals? There are thousands of different species of flies. Some eat plants. Some eat animals. Some eat dead things they find on the ground. For instance, mosquitoes suck blood, hessian flies eat grass, bot flies eat animal tissue, black-fly larvae live under water and the water for their food and tachinid flies eat other insects. Question from Deer Park, Washington.
  • If I ate a fly would it make me sick? Accidentally swallowing a fly probably would not make you sick. Flies themselves are fairly clean. However, flies walk on and feed on some awful things. A fly may pick up some microorganisms from these places and pass them on to you. Question from Miami, FL.
  • Do flies have blood? Flies do have blood. It is called haemolymph.

Ants

  • Do black ants bite? Black ants are able to bite, but they only bite humans if they are picked up. In addition, their bite is usually harmless. Question from Rhode Island.
  • Are there any types of ants that can fly? Most ant colonies have members that can fly. Most ants in the colony are workers. They never have wings, so they cannot fly. Once or twice a year the colony produces reproductives that have wings and can fly. Question from California.
  • Why do ants like sweets? Ants like sweets because sweets contain the carbohydrate, sugar. Carbohydrates provide energy for the ants to walk and perform other behaviors. In nature they get the carbohydrates from flower nectar or aphid honeydew.
  • Do ants eat clothes? Ants do not eat clothes. Most ants eat other insects. Some eat seeds. Question from Barbados.
  • How does weather affect ants? Weather affects ants, but not as severely as most other insects. All insects are 'cold blooded' meaning their bodies do not produce and retain heat as mammals' bodies do. Therefore, if the temperature is low the insect's metabolism slows, and it cannot move or grow very quickly. Ants, because many species live together in nests, are able to regulate the temperature of the nest. This allows them to survive cold periods, and it allows them to raise their young in colder weather. Question from PA.
  • How do ants bite? Ants have mouthparts called mandibles. They use the mandibles to handle food and defend themselves by biting. Question from Temora.
  • How many eggs does a queen ant lay? There are thousands of different species of ants. Some species' queens only law a few eggs. However the African driver ant queen can lay 3 million eggs per month.
  • Does an ant have a tongue? Ants do not have much of a tongue. Ants taste things using their feet and palps. Palps are finger-like appendages around the mouth. Question from Philadelphia.
  • How do ants see, hear, touch, taste and smell? Ants have all of the senses that humans have, but they use different parts of their bodies sometimes.
    • Sight- Ants have two types of eyes and they are quite different from ours. Human eyes have one lens whereas most ant eyes have many lenses. In addition ants have another set of eyes called 'simple eyes' or ocelli that allow the ant to judge light levels in the environment.
    • Sound- Ants do not have ears, but they can perceive sound by feeling the vibrations with different body parts such as the legs and antennae
    • Smell- Ants' antennae have pits and other structures that perceive scents in the air.
    • Taste- Ants do not have a tongue, but they have finger-like palps around the mouth that have the ability to taste.
    • Touch- Ants mainly use their antennae to explore their environment by touch. However, they have sensory structures all over their bodies that allow them to detect is something is touching them. Question from Georgia, USA.
  • Do ants think? Ants can think to a certain extent. They have brains and they can react to events around them as long as those events are not extraordinary. If they are faced with events that they are not genetically programmed for they will not be able to behave correctly. Humans, when faced with new situations are able to reason and come up with novel solutions. Ants and most other insects cannot do this. Question from Australia
  • What kind of food do ants prefer, bacon fat, sugar, or meat? The types of food that ants prefer depends on the type of ant. Some ants like sweet things, and some are attracted to grease and meat. Question from Miami, FL.
  • Do Ants bite? Ants have jaws called mandibles that allow them to bite. They bite mainly to capture food and defend themselves. Question from Otatara children's centre New Zealand.
  • Why do Ants like sugar? Ants like sugar because sugar contains nutrients that ants need. Sugar contains carbohydrates that provide energy for muscle movement. Without the sugar the ants muscles would run out of energy.

  • Do Ants have brains? Ants do have brains. That's how they process sensory information like things that they see and hear. The brain also tells the muscles what to do. Question from Herne Bay.

  • Why do ants carry leaves? Ants that cut and carry leaves back to their nests are called leaf-cutting ants. When the leaves are brought into the nest they are chopped up and added to a 'garden' where the ants grow a 'crop' of fungus. The fungus produces structures that the ants eat.
  • Could you please tell me the what the pest control method is for dealing with what appears to be very small ants. These ants can be found in my kitchen, and I have seen them crawling all over my bed linen. I am wondering what is the best and safest way to get rid of them for once and for all? Thank you.
    Ants enter houses usually looking for food. In addition, ants follow chemical trails that are laid down by scout ants. So, one way to discourage these ants would be to remove any food that they might find and disrupt the chemical trails. This can be accomplished by frequent cleaning of surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom,etc. Also cleaning counters and mopping floors will disrupt the chemical trails that the ants use for navigation. If the cleaning doesn't do a complete job, consider buying ant bait stations. Ant bait stations are small plastic chambers that have small holes in the sides. Ant are attracted to enter the station and collect its contents that is composed of food and an insecticide. This mixture is transported back to the colony (that is usually outside) and begins to kill the nest. Question from Australia.
  • What kinds of sugars do ants eat? I'm doing a science fair project on it, and no one can tell me the answer. Ants eat sugar from many sources. They can get sugar from flower nectar and other plant structures called extra-floral nectaries. They can also obtain sugar by collecting honeydew from plant-feeding insects such as aphids. Another source of sugar may be the spilled jam on the kitchen counter. The types of sugar depends on the source. Plant sugars usually contain fructose and glucose. Table sugar is sucrose. Question from Memphis TN.
  • What kinds of sugar do ants prefer? Ants eat many different kinds of sugar. Sometimes they collect nectar from flowers. The typical sugars in nectar are glucose and fructose. Ants may also collect sugar from aphids in the form of honeydew. Some ants will eat sugar in your kitchen which is sucrose.
  • How are queen ants determined? Queen ants are determined by several factors. The first is whether the egg is fertilized or not. If an egg is not fertilized, a male ant will hatch from it. If it is fertilized a female ant emerges. Other factors that determine if a female will develop into a worker or queen include how the larva is fed and the age of the queen that laid the egg.
  • What is the job of the Ant Colony Queen? Ants are social insects meaning that certain ants perform certain jobs in the colony. Some gather food, some take care of the young and some defend the colony. The job of the queen is to lay eggs that will develop into larvae and eventually adult ants. All of the other ants do their jobs to protect the queen and larvae.

    Other things that the queen does are:
    -Mates with a male
    -Flies away from where she was born to found a new colony
    -Give off chemicals from her body that direct the behavior of the worker ants.

  • What do ants like to eat the most? Ants eat a variety of things for different purposes. An adult ant needs carbohydrates for energy, so it eats sweet things such as flower nectar. However, if an ant is gathering food to bring back to the nest to feed the young, then it concentrates on proteins mainly from eating other insects. The protein is fed to the larvae so they can grow into adults.

  • Do ants have blood? Ants do have blood. It is called haemolymph.
  • Can Queen Ants fly? Most queen ants have wings when they emerge from the pupa, and they can fly to mate and find new nests. Shortly after they begin the new nest they shed their wings.