Ants can be attracted to urine due to the substances such as water, glucose, and salts that it may contain. In fact, some ant species rely on urine as an energy source and for survival.
For example, the ant species Camponotus compressus, a ground-nesting species found in India and Southeast Asia is known to frequent toilets and urinals.
A study has also shown that the species Camponotus terebrans, otherwise known as sugar ants, prefer urine as a food source over what they’re named after. Makes you wonder why they’re named as such and not Ant Grylls (context).
In this article we’ll look deeper into why ants are attracted to urine as we break down the composition of urine and determine the factors that make it particularly attractive to ants.
What Is Urine?
By definition, urine is a solution of metabolic waste which the body excretes through urination to clean the blood. It’s composed of toxins which can be harmful to the body when accumulated, hence the need for release.
Chemical Composition Of Urine
Normal urine is composed of 95% water and different concentrations of the following:
|Inorganic Sulfur||0.163 g/l|
Aside from these, urine also contains other dissolved ions, inorganic, and inorganic compounds. Certain conditions may also cause additional elements to be in urine such as glucose and protein.
Why Are Ants Attracted To Urine?
Ants are generally attracted to what they need to survive and function. And it just so happens that urine contains a number of the substances that fulfills these needs. These substances are as follows:
- Water: Water is essential for every living thing including ants. It plays a role in a number of processes such as digestion, respiration, and in the case of insects, molting. All of which are important for growth, development, and survival. While ants usually get their water from moisture in food, the dry season may prompt them to look for other water sources. It is then that you may see them invading your house and possibly your toilets.
- Glucose: Likewise, glucose is also important as it plays a major role in the process of respiration, a biochemical process which allows cells to obtain energy. When combined with oxygen, glucose produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is used to fuel the cellular processes required to stay alive. Therefore, ants may be attracted to urine as it serves as a food and energy source. This is especially true if the urine contains excess glucose as a result of diabetes.
- Sodium: Ants need sodium for muscular and nerve function as well as maintaining fluid balance in their bodies. As such, ants have been shown to be attracted to saline solutions. This is especially true for herbivorous ants and those living in salt-poor areas. So lack of salt sources may prompt ants to turn to urine.
- Urea: Urea, also known as carbamide, is defined as the final nitrogenous extraction product of many organisms. It’s a major component of mammalian urine and due to its high nitrogen content is used in fertilizers and feed supplements. As for ants, the aforementioned C. terebrans along with other species have bacterium in their digestive tracts which allow them to process urea into nitrogen which is then used for the production of proteins and amino acids.
- Proteins: In some cases, urine may contain proteins due to proteinuria, a condition characterized by the presence of excess proteins in urine. Like urea, ants may use these proteins to produce amino acids and other proteins that they need.
Are Ants Attracted To Water?
Yes, ants are attracted to water. As mentioned, ants are attracted to what they need to survive and water is an important part of many life processes including respiration. Without it, ants eventually dry out and die.
Are Ants Attracted To Lemon Juice?
Ants don’t like lemon juice. Its smell and acid disrupts their scent trails and messes up communication. In fact, lemon juice is a known deterrent of ants.
Summary: Are Ants Attracted To Urine?
Ants can be attracted to urine because it contains a number substances that they need to survive. These substances include water, glucose, sodium, urea, and proteins. All of which are used in important processes in the body that allow for proper function and survival.