Do Insects Have Brains? Do gnats have brains and hearts? - IdmcrackfreedownloadInfo

Do Insects Have Brains? Do gnats have brains and hearts?

The Irish Times
Wed, Nov 7, 2018

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Memory of a gnat? The fruit fly may tell us why



Studying the brains of fruit flies may offer insights into how human brain diseases develop, writes ANTHONY KING

I T MIGHT seem improbable that the fruit fly, Drosophila, with its brain the size of a pinhead could tell us anything about the human brain. Yet the fly has been a mainstay of laboratory research for decades and is helping a team at Trinity College Dublin to learn how the human brain works. Their stud may also deliver new insights into autism.

Inside the fly room at the college, Prof Mani Ramaswami holds up racks of vials containing fruit flies. The laboratory is home to half a million fruit flies in 500 different variants of the bug. These flies have been maintained as laboratory stock for decades and wouldn’t survive in the wild.

They are of use because their brains are similar to ours in how they work, though not in size.

Our brains contain billions of neurons, and each is linked to between 1,000 and 10,000 other neurons. These connections, or synapses, change when memories form. The same processes work in the fruit fly, though it has only 200,000 brain cells.

“[The fruit fly] is simple enough to understand, but complex enough to have many of the physiological, cognitive and developmental mechanisms of humans in recognisable form,” says Ramaswami. An olfactory neuron in the fruit fly has an equivalent in mammals, so we can predict the same processes will occur in humans, he adds.

The neuroscientists have gained insights into what happens in the brains of fruit flies as they form memories. This has relevance to our own memories and conditions, they say.

It is possible to ask how various genes that underlie neuropsychiatric diseases, such as autism, function in the memory circuits, says Ramaswami. “The work we are doing has relevance to autism, schizophrenia and other forms of psychiatric disease and the mechanisms for memory,” he says.

Ramaswami’s group at the college is focusing on a simple form of memory called habituation. “The first time you see something, you respond strongly to it, but if it’s repeated without anything interesting added, then you stop responding,” says Ramaswami.

A simple example is how our skin responds to clothing. Generally, we are not conscious of the feel of the clothing but we can become aware of it by thinking about it. This shows that sensory neurons are still sensing it, but a filtering mechanism in the brain blocks out such a constant stimulus. This filtering can go awry in some neuropsychiatric conditions, Ramaswami explains.

The fruit flies in the Trinity experiments are habituated to odours. How long they remember depends on the training procedure, says Ramaswami.

“If a fly smells an odour for 20 minutes or so you get habituation and it stops responding to the odour for an hour or so,” he says. If it smells it for days, long-term habituation sets in and the odour won’t be registered for three to five days.

The brain circuits in flies are the same for short-term and long-term habituation, says Ramaswami. “In one case the existing synapses become stronger or weaker and in the other case the synapses change physically, with more forming or some being removed,” he says. If a smell is exciting, an additional neuron joins in to modulate the experience and mark it as memorable. If a smell becomes overpowering, an inhibitory neuron dampens the response.

Dr Adrian Dervan routinely opens the brains of fruit flies in the Trinity lab and watches how neurons react when puffs of odour are blown over the antennae before and after they are habituated. Other researchers probe individual cells in the brain. DNA technology and gene manipulation are also used. The hope is that their work will contribute to therapy, though there is no certainty of that.

Ramaswami was a professor in the US before moving to Ireland five years ago. Science Foundation Ireland funds his work and he collaborates with Prof Veronica Rodrigues, a Trinity alumnus in the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.



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Science & Mathematics




Do gnats have brains?

i think they do, but other people i know say no… so whos right?


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Best Answer: 
In a bilateral organism, the sensory structures usually occur at the anterior of the organism. Thus we see eyes, smell, taste, and often hearing receptors on the front of the animal.

Along with those structures would be an increase in nerve circuits, and especially circuits that involve input/output pathways. That concentration of nerves is often called a "brain" although in lower animals it amounts to the first ganglia.

Brain, if you do an online search for its definition, is usually defined by the structure within vertebrate animals, and then, almost as an afterthought, the definition says a comparable structure in invertebrates, so thats where the wiggle room comes in when people talk about invertebrate brains.

So if you define brain as an increase in nerve pathways that deal with integration of receptor inputs with appropriate output of motor neurons, then gnats definitely have brains. If you define brain as an organ of higher complexity, integration, choice making, and conscious thought, then gnats dont have brains.

I would think most biologists would go along with the first definition.

Emeritus Biology Professor


· 10 years ago


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  • pafundi

    Define Gnats

    · 2 years ago


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    · just now

  • Hoochie

    well they have to in order to live, and execute autonomous movements

    · 10 years ago


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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For other uses, see Gnat (disambiguation) and Gnats (disambiguation) .
“Knat” redirects here. For the television station, see KNAT-TV .
This article needs attention from an expert in insects. Please add a reason or a talk parameter to this template to explain the issue with the article. WikiProject Insects may be able to help recruit an expert. (September 2016)
This article’s tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia’s guide to writing better articles for suggestions. (September 2016) ( Learn how and when to remove this template message )

Gnat from Robert Hooke ‘s Micrographia , 1665

A female black fungus gnat

A gnat /ˈnæt/ is any of many species of tiny flying insects in the dipterid suborder Nematocera , especially those in the families Mycetophilidae , Anisopodidae and Sciaridae . [1] They can be both biting and non-biting. Most often they fly in large numbers, called clouds. “Gnat” is a loose descriptive category rather than a phylogenetic or other technical term, so there is no scientific consensus on what constitutes a gnat.

University of Kentucky entomologists consider only non-biting flies to be gnats, [1] and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln classifies fungus gnats and other non-biting flies as gnats.[ citation needed ] Certain universities also distinguish eye gnats : the Smithsonian Institution describes them as “non-biting flies, no bigger than a few grains of salt, … attracted to fluids secreted by your eyes”. [2]


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Life cycle
  • 3 Control
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References

Description[ edit ]

Male gnats often assemble in large mating swarms , or ghosts, particularly at dusk.

Gnat larvae are mostly free-living, and some are aquatic . Many feed on plants, though some are carnivorous . Larval plant feeders (such as the Hessian fly larva) cause root, stem, or leaf galls to be formed by the host plant. Some species of fungus gnats (families Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae ) are pests of mushrooms and roots of potted plants in homes and greenhouses .

Some South American pleurothallid orchids are pollinated by tiny gnats and have correspondingly small flowers .

The University of Georgia claims that there exists a biting kind of gnat, which is a black fly ( buffalo gnat ). [3] The scientists compare the painful and vicious bite of the black fly with the fire ant bite. Meanwhile, the North Carolina State University entomologists explain that a widely spread type of biting flies, called biting midges , also belongs to the gnat species: “Biting midges ( Culicoides sp.) are small, sometimes barely visible, blood-sucking flies more commonly known in many areas as biting gnats, sand flies, biting midges, punkies or “ no-see-ums ”.

Life cycle[ edit ]

Non-biting gnat populations abide near water, including wet soils; and are usually active in the summer. However, they can occur during any time of year in moist coastal regions. [4] Male gnats swarm at dusk. The mating occurs as soon as the females enter the swarm. [5] The females lay eggs en masse over water or attached to aquatic vegetation. The hatching continues over several days with the young larvae dropping to the bottom and building tubelike structures of debris. [5] Larvae are small worm-like creatures that feed on organic material. The larvae stage continues for about a month after which the species pupate for a few days. Before emerging, the pupa rises to the surface of the water, serving as a nutritious food for fish. [5] The pupal stage culminates in the metamorphosis of larvae into winged adults, which usually last less than seven days. Adults live for about another week and a half during which they produce up to 300 eggs. One female gnat can lay up to 1,000 eggs during its lifetime. [6]

Control[ edit ]

Adult non-biting gnats don’t damage plants and are considered a nuisance. Usually, larvae do not cause serious plant damage, but when present in large numbers can stunt the plant growth and damage its roots. [4] To prevent gnats from spreading, measures have to be taken to target immature stages of development of the species . Physical tactics include eliminating favorable living conditions: reduction of excess moisture, drainage of pools with standing water, and removal of decaying organic matter. [7] Commercially available control agents and insecticides can be used as a control measure, but are not recommended for use in a household. [4] To control adult gnats in smaller areas, pressurized aerosol sprays with pyrethrins can be used. [1] Other control measures in the household can include turning off unnecessary lights at dusk, sealing vents and other openings shut. [5]

See also[ edit ]

  • Black fly
  • Enicocephalidae (gnat bugs)
  • Cecidomyiidae (gall gnats)
  • Sciaridae (dark-winged fungus gnats)
  • Ceratopogonidae
  • Midge
  • Sandfly

References[ edit ]

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Gnat .
  1. ^ a b c “Midges and Gnats | Entomology” . Retrieved 2016-09-22.

  2. ^ Gibbons, John. “Gnats Always Keep an Eye Out for a Good Place to Eat” . Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  3. ^ “Houston County Extension ANR | Biting Gnats” . Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  4. ^ a b c “Fungus Gnats” . Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  5. ^ a b c d “Midges: Non-biting Gnats” . Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  6. ^ “Fungus Gnats” . Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  7. ^ “How to Get Rid Of Gnats” . Retrieved 2018-10-26.

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