A math poem that i need help on to find the answer?

Question:'Come right into my parlour,' said
The spider to the fly,
'And answer one small question, please,
Unless you want to die.
I've eaten scores of flies, of course,
But tell me if you dare:
If females had two more, and males
But half their present share,
How many flies like that, d'you think,
I really would require,
To give me twenty-eight fly legs,
The number I desire?'

Answers:
Both female and male flies each have 6 legs.

So the question that the spider is posing to the fly is...

"If female flies had two more [legs] (so 8 legs)... and if male flies had half their legs (so 3 legs). How many female flies and how many male flies like that would give the spider 28 fly legs altogether?

So.

let x = number of females
let y = number of males...

So the "math equation" you needed to come up with was...

(# of females)(8 legs) + (# of males)(3 legs) = (total # of legs)

(x)(8) + (y)(3) = 28 legs

8x + 3y = 28

What possible x and y combinations will make this statement true?

can x = 1? Nope.. doesn't work... because then 3y = 20
can x = 2? YES! Because if x = 2, then 3y = 12. and you get y = 4!

So... the spider will need 2 eight-legged female flies and 4 three-legged male flies. because...

# female fly legs = 2 x 8 = 16
# male fly legs = 4 x 3 = 12

16 + 12 = 28!

Are there any other possible x and y combinations that will make the statement 8x + 3y = 28 true?

can x = 3? Nope.. doesn't work... because then 3y = 4
can x = 4? Nope... doesn't work. because then then # of female legs (32) exceeds the required 28 legs

So the answer is... "The spider will need 2 eight-legged female flies and 4 three-legged male flies. because...

# female fly legs = 2 x 8 = 16
# male fly legs = 4 x 3 = 12

16 + 12 = 28!

Hope this helps! =)

I give you a star because this was a GREAT question! Challenging, too! Thanks again for making me think! LOL
Well, flies have six legs. If female flies had two more, they would have eight, and if males had half what they do now, they would have three.

If you had two female flies (8 legs each), that would be sixteen legs.

If you had four male flies (3 legs each), that would be twelve legs.

sixteen legs plus twelve legs is twenty eight legs, so the answer is six flies (2 female, 4 male).

Do you understand the logical steps I used to get that answer?

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