Ants depend on food consumption for obtaining nutrition and energy. As a side product, they will produce waste every time they consume food. Hence they will need to poop to get rid of the toxic waste out of the body.
But they are extremely particular about their pooping habits. To study this topic further, we will focus on the following topics:
- Basic overview of the ant poop-related information.
- Ant excretory system in a nutshell
- How the ant excretory system actually works
- A closer look at the pooping related measures the ants have in place
So let’s dive in…
Do Ants Pee and Poop?
All higher organisms get nutrition in some way or the other. To metabolize that nutrition and to obtain the energy they have the rightful systems in place.
But all the resources that are consumed don’t get transformed into necessary energy, some of them are ejected back into the world as waste. Ants are no exception to this theme and they have a well-functioning excretory system in place.
So by default, they will need to get rid of the waste materials in some form or the other. However, their excretory materials are more in solid form than in liquid form. Uric acid is the main component of their urine which is liberated along with the poop.
1. What is “Ant Poop” Called?
The ant poop is commonly known as ant frass. These include all kinds of stuff that the ant has been consuming on a regular basis. But there are various versions of frass.
It doesn’t always contain metabolized waste materials of the ants.
In the case of carpenter ants, for example, they vigorously construct tunnels on woody surfaces and they get rid of the woody debris via the frass.
But these wood shavings are different from other excreted stuff because these are not digested by the ant, they are just discarded.
2. What Does Ant Poop Look Like?
To the naked eye, ant-poops will look like a dusty mass of brown deposits.
Oftentimes it is of so low amount that you won’t even notice it. In texture, it can be moderately hard and fibrous.
3. What is the Excretory System of Ants?
The two important components of the ant excretory system are the malpighian tubules and the hindgut. Malpighian tubules are typically the counterparts of kidneys in the ants.
Their number varies from species to species. They are attached to the hindgut and midgut junction regions of the ants.
The malpighian tubules are constantly bathed by the ant blood which is a colorless fluid (it is known as hemolymph).
All the wastes formed within the ant body get mixed with the blood from where the malpighian tubules collect them. It then passes the waste material onto the rectum for further modification and for the final excretion process. So the malpighian tubules function to keep the hemolymph clean and devoid of any toxic wastes.
4. How do Ants Excrete Waste from their Body?
Waste materials in the form of water, amino acids, sugars, various ions, etc. enter the malpighian tubule from the blood with the help of osmosis.
The malpighian tubules have an opening in the alimentary canal, right between the midgut and the hindgut. The urine formed from the Malpighian tubule collects all the indigestible elements from the hindgut and transports them into the rectum.
Here the urine undergoes a vigorous change in composition. The urine undergoes the process of acidification and as a result, gets converted into an insoluble mass of uric acid.
The rectum does an important job of reabsorbing the water and various ions from the produced waste. This plays an important role for ants that particularly live under extremely dry weather conditions. Every last bit of water that can be reused gets reabsorbed.
Finally, the dry waste material rich in uric acid is excreted out into the world.
The final excretory product of the ants is a semi-solid brown mass of highly concentrated uric acid.
After being processed in the malpighian tubules and the rectum within the gut, the poop is released into the world through the anus.
5. What do Ants do with Their Poop?
It can come as a surprise but ants are extremely cautious about the sanitization habits.
When inside their nest, they have a dedicated area within their place for pooping. This is because improper sanitization habits within their nest can give rise to serious bacterial infection issues.
Ants in general are known for their sanitization habits. They get rid of their dead along with other waste materials outside the nest. So their goal is to keep their nest clean and infection-free at all costs.
In many instances, especially in the case of black garden ants, they keep their poops stored inside the nest in a separate chamber. They never discard the poop away.
- Certain ants like the leafcutters are known to use poop as manure for their fungal food garden (yes they are into basic farming as well!).
- Poops contain a strong smell and it is thought that they impart a strong scent throughout the nest that further gives the ants of the same colony their signature smell.
- They can also be used as a building material or as a source of nutrients later on in the future.
1. Do Ants Fart?
There is little to no evidence of whether ants fart or not. But insects in general are known to fart.
However, their farts won’t contain any smell as they will mainly be composed of hydrogen and methane. It is a rare occurrence and also it is impossible to detect any kind of distinct sound.
2. Do Ants Eat Poop?
Ants are attracted to protein and sugary food sources. So if you have any ant-related related troubles in the house and also have pets in your home, you need to take care of their dumps quickly.
Ants don’t differentiate between food types unlike vertebrates, so it doesn’t matter it’s poop or leftover food as long as they are rich in nutrition, the ants will go for it.
Ants are invertebrates which means that they regularly need to consume food and excrete out the waste. But unlike humans, they don’t have kidneys.
They have malpighian tubes which help in urine formation. The hindgut then processes that waste and converts it into a semi-solid mass of uric acid. A considerable amount of reabsorption of excess water and ions also occur in the rectum just before the excretion process.
Ants are highly particular about the location where they poop. They have dedicated corner spaces in their nests where they poop. This is particularly done for making sure that proper sanitary conditions prevail within their nests.