''Antz'' and ''A Bug's Life'' are far from life

By Scott Brown
December 11, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

By now, everybody knows that all insects have six legs (unlike the four-legged freaks of A Bug’s Life) and ant colonies are staffed by females (despite the virile world of Antz). But, all ant agonizing aside, didn’t Hollywood portray the crawlies pretty accurately? Not a chance. ”Asking if these films are biologically correct is like asking whether or not Star Wars is scientifically accurate,” says Stefan Cover, curatorial assistant at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Here’s how he and colleague Mike Kelley debug the flicks.

Fact Insects don’t have lungs or nostrils. They breathe through holes in their abdomens and smell with their antennae.
Antz shows more schnozz than Jimmy Durante.
A Bug’s Life features nary a nostril.

Fact All insects have compound eyes — no pupils, irises, or whites.
Antz features bright, cartoony peepers on everyone but the flies.
A Bug’s Life is the same story.

Fact Though some bugs are vegetarians, others do eat or attack fellow bugs.
Antz has ants and termites duking it out — though termites don’t look much like the turgid Hefty bags of the film.
A Bug’s Life‘s Manny the Mantis and his wife, Gypsy, a moth, would need major marriage counseling to quell his desire to devour her.

Fact All ants in a given colony are the progeny of a single queen, and therefore siblings.
Antz‘s fans should forget about Luke and Leia — Bala and Z actually end up together! Blech!
A Bug’s Life is another incest fest for Flik and Atta. Blech!

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