| science homeauthor | highlights


| view all | frame | islamicity home




36.jpg (14911 bytes)

The Qur'an frequently summons people to investigate nature and see the "signs of Allah" therein. All living and non-living beings in the universe are full of signs revealing that they are "made", and they are there to demonstrate the power, knowledge and art of their "maker". Man is responsible of identifying these signs by using his wisdom and revere Allah.

While all living beings bear these signs, there are some animals which the Qur’an specially refers to. The gnat is one of these animals. The 26th. verse of Surat al-Baqara mentioning the gnat is as below:

"Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable-- (that of) a (female) gnat or any thing above that; then as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord, and as for those who disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable: He causes many to err by it and many He leads aright by it! but He does not cause to err by it (any) except the transgressors"

Mostly considered as an ordinary and insignificant creature, even the gnat is worthy of being examined and pondered on since it bears the signs of Allah. This is why "Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable-(that of) a gnat or any thing above that".

24.jpg (11551 bytes)

The main food source of male and female gnats is nectar.


What is generally known about gnats is that they are bloodsuckers and they feed on blood. However, this is not a very correct information, because not all the gnats but only the females suck blood.  Besides, the females do not suck blood because of their need for food. Both male and female gnats feed on flower nectar. The only reason why females, unlike males, suck blood is their need for the proteins found in the blood which help their eggs to develop. In other words, the female gnat sucks blood just to secure the perpetuation of its generation.

5.jpg (12119 bytes)


A male gnat mature enough to mate uses its antennas, i.e. its hearing organs, to find its female. The antennas of male gnats have different functions from those of females. Thin feathers at the end of the antennas are highly sensitive to sounds produced by female gnats.

Right beside the sexual organ of the male gnat are found extensions which help him to grab the female while mating in the air. Male gnats fly in groups seeming like clouds and when a female gnat enters that group, the male who succeeds to grab the female mates with her during flight. Mating does not take too long and the male gnat goes back to his group. From that moment on, the female gnat needs blood for the development of her eggs.

The point to be stressed here is that the above verse points out to the "female gnats". As we have previously mentioned, it is only the female gnats who draw near to the humans and who have the superior features that will be detailed hereafter. Although this importnat detail was unknown at the time the Qur’an was revealed, it is surely quite considerable that "female" gnats are particularly emphasized in the verse.

The development process is one of the most amazing and admirable qualities of the gnat. The animal transforms from a tiny larva into a gnat after passing through many different phases. The story of this development can be shortly summarised as follows;

Gnat eggs, which are fed by blood and get developed, are laid on damp leaves or dried ponds by the female gnat during summer or fall. Prior to this, the mother initially examines the ground thoroughly, by using the delicate receptors under her abdomen. Upon finding a convenient place, she starts to lay her eggs. Eggs, which are less than 1 mm. in length, are arranged in a row either in groups or one by one. Some species lay their eggs joined to each other forming a raft, some of which may contain about 300 eggs.

7.jpg (7391 bytes)

In some gnat species, hundreds of eggs are lined up by the female, so as to form a raft.

si.jpg (7400 bytes)

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: The respiratory system of the larva is based on breathing air by means of a hollow tube pulled up over the water surface. Meanwhile, larvae are hung upside down under the water. A viscous secretion prevents water from leaking into the openings through which larvae breath.

The carefully placed white eggs soon start to darken and turn completely black in two hours. This dark colour provides protection for the larvae by preventing them to be noticed by other insects and birds.

It takes a winter for the incubation period to be completed. Since eggs are created with a structure that allows them to survive through a long cold winter, they stay alive until spring when their incubation period ends.


When the incubation period is completed, larvae start to get out of their eggs almost concurrently. The first egg is immediately followed by the others. After that, all of the larvae start to float in water. The larvae, which feed continuously, grow in a short while. Soon, their skin becomes too tight so as not allowing them to grow any further. This indicates that it is time for the first skin change. The hard and brittle skin easily breaks down. Until the development is completed as a whole, the gnat larva is to change its skin two more times.

The method used for the feeding of the larvae is rather impressive. The larvae make small whirlpools in the water with their two fan-shaped extensions made up of feathers, and thus make bacteria and other micro-organisms flow towards their mouths. The respiration of the larvae is provided by an aerial tube similar to the "snorkel" used by divers. They repose upside down in the water. A viscous secretion secreted by their body prevents water from leaking into the openings through which they breath. Briefly, the animal lives with the cooperation of many delicate balances. If it did not have an aerial tube, it could not survive; if it did not have a viscous secretion, its respiratory tube would be blocked.

In the mean time, most of the larvae change their skin once more. The last skin change is rather different from the others. With this last change, larvae pass onto the final stage of their maturation, the "pupal stage". Now, it is time for the larvae, which are sufficiently grown in the larval skin, to get rid of this shell.

However, such a different creature gets out of the shell that it is indeed hard to believe that these two are different developmental phases of the same being. And this metamorphoses is far too complicated and delicate to be designed neither by the larva itself, nor by the mother or any other living thing...

During this latest stage of metamorphoses, the animal faces the danger of being choked, as its respiratory openings rising above the water through an aerial tube are to be closed. However, from that stage on, respiration is not to be done through these holes, but through two tubes newly emerging on the anterior of the animal. This is why these tubes rise to the water surface firstly prior to skin change. During the three or four days long pupal stage, no feeding takes place.

Now, the gnat within the pupa cocoon is mature enough and has taken its final form. The gnat is ready to fly with all its organs and organelles like antennas, trunks, feet, chest, wings, abdomen and large eyes.

s.jpg (6359 bytes)

Gnats at their pupal stage

The pupa cocoon is torn at the top. This stage where a complete gnat emerges is the most fatal stage of all. The greatest risk at this stage is the leaking of water into the cocoon. However, the torn top is covered with a viscous liquid preventing the gnat’s head from contacting water.

The gnat has to get out of its cocoon without having any direct contact with water. Only its feet touch the water surface. This moment is extremely important, as even a soft wind may cause its death. The gnat, which gets out of its cocoon, leaves for its first flight after a rest of about half an hour.

The animal has got out of water without even touching the water...

At this point, we have to ask: How come the first gnat had attained the "ability" to go through such a metamorphosis? Might it be that a larva has "decided" to transform into a gnat after changing skin three times?

Absolutely not; it is quite evident that this tiny animal which Allah gives as an example, has specifically been created as it is.

sivr4.jpg (6737 bytes)              sivr3.jpg (6742 bytes)

While the gnat gets out of water, its head should not contact with water at all, because, even one breathless moment may result with the choking of the gnat. Therefore, even a breeze or a tiny roughness on the water surface may be fatal for the gnat.

26.jpg (11286 bytes)


Gnats are equipped with extremely sensitive heat receptors. They perceive things around them in different colours depending on their heat as in the picture on the right. As this perception is not dependent on light, it is quite easy for the gnat to spot the blood vessels even in a dark room. The heat receptors of the gnat are sensitive enough to sense heat differences as small as 1/1000 C degrees.

The gnat has nearly 100 eyes. These eyes are placed as compound eyes on the top of its head. In the picture above, the cross-sections of three of these eyes are shown. On the right, it is shown how the image of an object is transmitted to the brain from the eye.


30a.jpg (8648 bytes)      30Eb.jpg (13642 bytes)      31E.jpg (12867 bytes)

Sting  Sheath

The gnat’s technique of "blood sucking" is unbelievably amazing.

After the gnat lands on its target, it first detects a spot by using the two devices around its mouth. The syringe-like sting of the gnat is protected with a special sheath, which is stripped off during the blood sucking process.

The gnat does not prick the skin by thrusting its sting into it with pressure as assumed. Here, the duty falls to the upper jaw which is as sharp as a knife, and the mandible on which there are teeth bent backwards. The mandible is moved forwards and backwards like a saw and the skin is cut with the help of the upper jaws. When the sting inserted through this cleavage on the skin reach to the blood vessel, the drilling ends. Now it's the time for the animal to suck blood.

However, as known, in the slightest harm made to the vessels, the human body secretes an enzyme that clots the blood and stops its shedding. This should be a great problem for the gnat, because the body would also react to the tiny hole opened by the gnat, therefore, the blood would be clotted and reparation would start. This means that the animal would not be able to suck any blood.

But the problem is specially eliminated for the gnat. Before the animal starts sucking blood, it leaves a special liquid secreted in its body into the cleavage opened in the human vessel. This liquid neutralises the enzyme that provides for the clotting of the blood. Thus, the gnat sucks the blood it needs without any problem of clotting. The itching and swelling of the spot bitten by the gnat is caused by this liquid which prevents clotting.

This is surely an extraordinary process and it brings the following questions to the mind:

1) How does the gnat know that there is an clotting enzyme in the human body?

2) In order to produce a neutralising secretion in its own body against that enzyme, it needs to know the chemical of the enzyme. How can this be possible?

3) Even if it somehow attains such a knowledge (!), how come can it produce such a secretion in its own body and constitute the "technical rigging" needed to transfer it to its sting?

The answer is obvious; It is not possible for the gnat to perform any of those above. It neither has the required wisdom, nor the chemical knowledge, nor the "laboratory" environment to produce the secretion. What we talk about is only a gnat of several millimetres without any wisdom or consciousness, that's all!…

It is quite clear that it is Allah, "Lord of the heavens and of the earth, and of all that is between them", who has created both the gnat and the man, and donated the gnat with such extraordinary and marvellous features.

Whatever is in the heavens and on earth,- let it declare the Praises and Glory of Allah: for He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: It is He Who gives Life and Death; and He has Power over all things.(Surat al-Hadid, 1-2)

When it is considered that apart from the excellent systems of the gnat such as feeding, reproduction, respiration and blood circulation, this lice also has complex systems and organic functions, the boundlessness of the signs of Allah can better be comprehended.

Next : THE HONEY BEE        


Send Comments and Suggestions to [email protected]