Do Ants Pee?
No, ants don’t pee. While their bodies may produce urine, they don’t end up urinating as most of the water is absorbed back to the body by their excretory system. In the end, they produce solid pellets of waste which they instead excrete by pooping.
In this article we’ll learn more about why ants don’t pee and what they do instead. Before that however, let’s briefly define what peeing is exactly.
What Is Peeing Or Urination?
Peeing or in more technical terms, urination, is the process of expelling urine, a liquid or semisolid solution of metabolic waste and other substances, from the body. In humans and many animals, urination is done through a urinary system that consists of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra.
This system handles everything including the filtration of waste materials and production of pre-urine, the absorption of solutes and water back to the bloodstream, and of course, the eventual excretion of urine from the body.
Why Don’t Ants Pee?
Ants don’t pee because they don’t have a urinary system. They don’t have true kidneys and instead have an excretory system made up of Malpighian tubules which extend throughout their digestive tract.
This tubule system can be quite similar to the urinary system in that it facilitates the filtration of waste and the reabsorption of water back to the bloodstream. In fact, at some point in the process, the ant excretory system even produces urine. This urine however, does not get excreted.
Unlike the urinary system which produces and expels a liquid or semisolid solution, the ant excretory system produces and expels solid waste pellets instead.
What Happens To The Urine?
If ants produce pre-urine, why don’t they urinate? Well, it’s because their excretory system does a good job of reabsorbing water.
After the Malpighian tubules filter water and waste out of the hemolymph to produce pre-urine, the same pre-urine is then passed to the hindgut where it merges with undigested food. While there, special cells reabsorb around 90% of the water, leaving the rest of the waste material to form the solid waste pellets that ants eventually expel.
Due to this reabsorption, the ant excretory system allows ants to remove waste from their bodies while preventing water loss which may otherwise lead them to dry up or desiccate.
Ants Don’t Pee, They Poop
Since ants excrete solid waste, they therefore poop instead of pee. They are very much like birds in that their urine mixes in with other waste to produce the aforementioned solid pellets which they eventually expel through the anus as poop or in more technical terms, frass.
This frass typically looks like tiny brown or black pellets and may appear as stains or patches on a surface. They’ve also been described to look like a build-up of old coffee grounds.
Excreting Nitrogenous Waste
A major function of urination is to remove nitrogenous waste from the body. This nitrogenous waste tends to form toxic ammonia which in many animals needs to be detoxified and converted to another form for excretion.
In humans and many other vertebrates for example, ammonia is converted into the relatively less toxic, water-soluble organic compound urea and is excreted through urine. On the other hand, ants and some other insects convert ammonia into uric acid, a non-toxic solid which does not require dilution to be expelled.
As such, this uric acid can be simply removed from the ant body along with undigested food and other waste through pooping.
Are Ants Attracted To Urine?
Ants can be attracted to urine because it contains a number substances that they need to survive. Urine, for example, contains water, glucose, sodium, urea, and proteins, all of which are used in important processes in the body.
In fact, some ant species like the Camponotus compressus rely on urine as an energy source and for survival. These ground nesting ants are known to frequent toilets and urinals.
Do Ants Fart?
Although there are limited studies on whether ants fart, it is highly likely that they do. Ants satisfy the requirements such as specific body parts and the presence of microbes in the gut necessary to produce a fart. Also, evidence of farting in ants has been shown through preserved gas bubbles around the anuses of ants that have been trapped in amber.
Summary: Do Ants Pee?
To summarize, no ants do not pee. While their bodies may produce pre-urine, their excretory system reabsorbs most of the water from the pre-urine back into the hemolymph to produce solid waste pellets. These pellets are then excreted as poop instead.