Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: science ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: science
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: theo44-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 12 Oct 2003 12:22 PDT
Expires: 11 Nov 2003 11:22 PST
Question ID: 265489
I had fly in my microwave and I hit the one minute button, (I had a
sausage to cook)and the fly flew out when I opened the door. How is
that possible? I thought microwaves killed even bacteria!
Subject: Re: science
Answered By: feilong-ga on 12 Oct 2003 14:38 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello  Theo44,

A cursory search on the subject led me to AMPERE Message Board and
Discussion Forum. Below are two interesting entries:

"Well it does not surprise me in the least that ONE ant survived! If
the researchers placed a bunch of ants all huddled together then the
story would have been different. You see with ONE ant in a microwave
oven most of the energy would have been reflected back to the source
so the microwaves hardly "saw" THE ant! ELEMENTARY MY DEAR WATSON!"

"Microwaves of a domestic oven can kill insects, bugs, bacteria, virus
etc. or not? (this has nothing to do with microwaves ovens in use in
some post offices, according to news papers). Just reporting an item
on the radio in Central Europe. "Somebody has put an ant in a
microwave oven and the ant survived; It walked through the cold spots
of the bouncing waves inside the oven cavity. Clearly, insects (not
only an ant but also a fly and subsequenty a mosquito was tested) can
detect microwaves and they now how to survive in electromagnetic
radiation". Microwave insect and bug control - a new research fields?
The oven is clearly not a good insect control instrument. Better tools
have to be developped."

(Source: AMPERE Association, IPTME, Loughborough University,
Loughborough LE11 3TU, U.K., Copyright 2003. )

The entries above mentions an ant surviving in a microwave oven. In
your case, it's a fly. How did the fly survive inside the oven? To
answer this, first we must understand how a microwave oven works.

A microwave oven emits evenly spaced, waves of energy called "standing
waves" that are focused on the plate inside your microwave. Only some
parts of the of the plate are exposed to these waves and that the
inside of the oven is not completely exposed to the waves. This is the
reason why the plate was designed to rotate and expose the food to
these waves. Inside a microwave oven, the air in the oven is at room
temperature. Air doesn't absorb the emitted waves of energy well, so
the air in a microwave oven doesn't get hot. Heat is produced due to
"molecular friction" when the atoms of the food are excited and
"twisted back and forth" (please click on "How Things Work" link below
for more detailed information). Microwave doesn't remain still in
objects and passes through most matter except metal.

Given the size of the fly and the space inside the oven, there is
still plenty of space where it can move safely. Even if it gets hit by
some of the emitted standing waves, its small surface area means very
little energy is absorbed to produce heat. For as long as it keeps on
moving and/or not remain in a place where it will be constantly and
repetitively bombarded by the emitted energy, it will not be "cooked"
inside and it will survive. The situation is similar to moving your
finger through a flame. Keep it moving and very little heat is
absorbed. Hold it in the flame and your finger will get burned.

A similar question has been answered in the past. You can read the
highly-rated answer of my colleague through this link:

Ants in a microwave oven.

Additional references:

How Microwave Ovens Work

How Things Work

Microwave Oven FAQ

Search strategy:

insect survive "microwave oven"

ant survive "microwave oven"

I hope this helps you. Should you have any comments/questions, please
feel free to post your clarification before rating this and I'll
attend to you as soon as possible. Thanks for asking.

Best regards,
theo44-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thanks feilong,for fast responce! I was just so surprized by the fly
living! I stay away from the oven when it is on. I thought that
anything in the oven alive is toast and that fly must have a lot of

Subject: Re: science
From: pcventures-ga on 12 Oct 2003 15:09 PDT
Also, microwaves work by heating up the water molecules inside of food.
 I would imagine that few insects have a heck of a lot of water in them.
 So combine that with the low probablility of getting a thorough microwave
 "soaking" you end up with insects that appear to be radiation-proof!

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy