How Do Insects Poop?

The crapper. John. Dunny. Latrine. Loo. Porcelain
throne. Potty. There are more than one hundred words for toilet, but did you know that more
people have cellphones than a place to go poo? Hey there science fans! Dr. Kiki from This
Week in Science here for DNews. A study in the Public Library of Science journal
PLoS One this week investigated the sanitation habits of Lasius niger, otherwise called black
garden ants. On observing colonies of the ants in the laboratory, the researchers noticed
what looked like dark patches in the corners. To see whether the patches were indoor lavatories,
they fed the ants colored food. The result is hard to deny… the ants dedicate special
areas within their homes for defecation. But, why would ants use a toilet when the
whole world could be their bathroom? Humans and other animals tend to separate
the places where they eat and socialize from the places where they defecate. The reason
for this is thought to be mainly for sanitation. Excrement, feces, what you might call poop,
has the potential to harbor pathogenic bacteria and parasites. Human feces is known to contain
E. coli, which causes disease. Highly populated areas with poor or no sanitation often suffer
from devastating water-borne diseases because people live too close to waterways, and excrement
gets into the drinking water supply. So, good health and survival depend on the drive to
not poop where you eat. Social insects, like ants, have been observed
in many studies removing waste materials from their nests. And, like humans, it’s thought
to keep things clean, and provide for the health of the colony. Honey bees take their defecation outside,
and like to poop as they fly. Bee larvae don’t actually poop until they take their first
flight, letting the waste build up inside of them until they become adult bees and are
old enough to venture outside alone. Adult cockroaches collect poop from their
nests and dump it outside. But, there are wood-boring beetles who just fill old, unused
tunnels with their bodily refuse. In this study the ants continued to remove
other solid waste to the outside, adding strength to the conclusion that these patches were
actually toilets. However, the ants did not seem to avoid the toilet area, so the researchers
wondered whether the indoor toilets might serve some additional beneficial purpose,
like providing healthful bacteria to young ants.
Leaf-cutter ants fertilize their gardens with their poop. Termites use their fecal matter
to build their homes. And, some ants use poo to not only mark their territories, but also
identify themselves as part of the group by wiping it on walls and themselves. Then there are insects like the dung beetle
who need the poop from herbivorous and omnivorous animals to survive. They are attracted to
and collect the poop from large creatures for use as food and a place to raise their
young. Although, at least one species lays its eggs on the mother’s own poop. If you are wondering after all this talk about
poop, whether insects like ants pee, the answer is that they do a little of both every time
they defecate. What we think of as pee, is our body’s way to get rid of excess water,
salts, and urea, which is liquid nitrogen waste. Insects don’t have a lot of excess water
remaining from their metabolic functions to excrete, and tend to produce an insoluble
solid called uric acid that gets mixed into the digestive waste via the Malphigian tubules
and pooped out the anus as a substance called frass. It’s not really known whether by
not making liquid pee insects are conserving water, or if turning it into a solid helps
with weight regulation since a water containing bladder would be big and heavy to carry around. And, if you want to know about the weirdest
not pee out there, woodlice, which are not insects but crustaceans, get rid of excess
nitrogen in a puff of ammonia gas through their exoskeleton. Anything else you wanna know about insect
bathroom habits?

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100 thoughts on “How Do Insects Poop?

  1. Dr. Kiki , I didn't realise that wood lice were crustaceans and not insects. Are there any other crustaceans out there that we frequently mistake for insects? I've always been suspicious of those disgusting silverfish. Please don't tell me they are really fish.

  2. The reason people have more phones than toilets is because toilets can be shared and owned by a few people. while phones can't so each persom has to have one for him/herself unlike a toilet which can be used by many people.

  3. humans are retarded, setting themselves bad environment and go against basic animal nature to NOT shit where you eat, literally bath in their feces all because they do not own enough cellulose paper bills. humans..

    btw im a hippo so dont tell me im hypocrite human

  4. why IS it that people are fascinated with poop?  are we really all just a bunch of two year-olds who just think it's funny?  and speaking of such bodily functions — do bugs fart?   ; D

  5. When I was little, a bee flew over me and a yellow liquid fell on my arm. I used to think it was nectar but after watching this, maybe it wasn't.

  6. There are more phones in use than toilets?
    No shit, people share bathrooms. btw that was a pun

    Watch out though, the government hides these little mindworms in public toilets that shoot say up in your ass to control your minds. Keep you complacent, tells you all about how great film remakes are so you waste your money.


    – your mom

  7. Wow. Never knew anyone ever looked into this subject. I know bees drink lots of real water because I've watched them.

  8. I thought the honeybee one is wrong, but they actually poop larva poop when they become adults, & they use adult bee poop to build their homes

  9. Kiki do you love me, are you ridin, so you never leave from beside me, cause I want ya and I need ya and I’m always down for ya

  10. I once expelled a tiny stone of uric acid through my penis. Does it mean I'm turning into an insect?

  11. Hello, I am doing an experiment where I have to whipe of frass directly of the butt. Is this possible and do you have any tips?

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