Ants may be extremely tiny, but they need basic nutrients to survive like most other living creatures. It may be difficult to picture ants drinking water due to their small size. If you are wondering if ants ever drink water, read this article for a better understanding.
So, do ants drink water? Yes, ants do drink water from small puddles or drops of water. Some species of ants find water from their solid food. Ants need water for their survival. However, ants are not frequent visitors to the water holes. Instead, they get the required moisture content through the food they consume. In case the water is scarce, they go looking for it.
- How do ants drink water?
- What are the main techniques that ants use to drink water?
- What sources do ants use to find water?
- What additional tools do ants use to drink water?
- Why is water necessary for ants?
- Do ants get attracted to water?
- Are ants attracted to moisture?
- Do ants get attracted to urine?
- How much water can ants drink?
- What is the rate at which ants drink water?
- Do ants drink water to prevent flooding?
- What are Ytong nests and how are they related to ants’ water requirement?
- What is the ants’ social structure that makes them search for water and food?
How do ants drink water?
Ants have a part of their mouth called the labium which is similar to the tongue in human beings. They use labium to drink water. The labium is divided into further components like hypopharynx and glossa. The hypopharynx holds the water while the glossa displaces the water.
There is yet another component of their mouth called the mandible. They use mandible to break the surface of the water. However, they do not suck water in since they do not have lungs. They use wicking or water goes in through capillary action.
Ants hold the food with their mandible and process it with their maxillae. They use labium to contain food in the lower portion of their mouth while eating.
What are the main techniques that ants use to drink water?
Similar to the common mammal behavior, ants use sucking and licking to drink water.
Licking is similar to how a dog drinks water. In this method, the glossa transports water into the hypopharynx physically where it is held. Yellowjackets employ this method to drink water.
Sucking is similar to how human beings drink water. Ants use negative pressure to draw water into their hypopharynx. From here, it moves to the digestive system.
What sources do ants use to find water?
Ants find several sources of water including their food. Weaver ants and Leafcutter ants find the water they need from plant sap. Several ant species tend to insects from the order Homoptera like aphids and get liquid honeydew. This is full of moisture.
Some ants move to extrafloral nectarines of plants to find a sweet liquid source that provides the required moisture.
What additional tools do ants use to drink water?
Ants use improvised tools to collect large amounts of sweet liquids and water that are usually heavier than what their crops can carry.
For instance, the Harvester ants or Pogonomyrmex throw sand into their liquid food to carry it to their nests. Species like liquid food make use of plant parts to soak up liquids like sponges and carry them to their dwellings.
Researchers suggest that the redwood ant or Formica polyctena could absorb water vapors depending on the rate of sorption. Further, some ants are capable of reclaiming their internal water content through organs called rectal pads.
Ants like Diacamma arrange feathers around their nests. This way they collect dew formed early in the morning. Sometimes, dead ants are arranged around the nest to collect dew.
Harvester ants that look for food in hot arid climates may lose moisture content from their body. However, they get the required amounts of water from the fat metabolized out of the seeds they consume.
Why is water necessary for ants?
Ants need water for survival reasons, much like human beings. Note that most colonies of ants can live without food for a certain period, but water scarcity is more dangerous for their survival.
Wild ant colonies take water from the wet ground of their jungle habitats. Meanwhile, ants that live on the trees get water that appears as morning dew among leaves. Ants are also found to roll drops of water to transport them.
They can do this because of their small size. Water is a basic necessity for ants and they need a constant supply of it.
Do ants get attracted to water?
Like most animals, ants need water for survival. However, they do not require large puddles similar to insects. The majority of ants get water through the food they eat. Besides, they share water and food through the regurgitation process.
Hence, most ants would not look for new sources or invade homes looking for water. However, there is a possibility that they enter the homes in search of water during very hot climates. Species like carpenter ants are naturally attracted to damp wood which results from leaks.
Are ants attracted to moisture?
Usually, ants can get water and drink off the walls of their nests where moisture collects. As a result, structures like Ytong nests are common among antkeepers. These help in the absorption of water and uniform distribution of water across the nest.
Ants are also attracted to something like a cotton ball soaked in water. They would benefit further if the water source has sugar content in it.
Do ants get attracted to urine?
Since urine and water are closely related, ants are found to be attracted to urine too. Ants’ attraction to urine is linked to the illness of diabetes. Physicians found that ants were drawn to urine during the study of patients with urination issues.
Back in 2500 BC, the Egyptians noted a case of sudden emptying of the urine. These conditions refer to type 1 diabetes. If a person has this, the sugar or glucose cannot travel to cells of the body where it is required. This sugar content remains inside the body and blood. If this blood-sugar level stays high for a long time, several organs may get damaged, such as kidneys.
Since kidneys control glucose of the urine, their malfunction means that urine may carry high levels of glucose. As a result, ants find it attractive and are naturally drawn to it. There has been documented record of ants’ attraction to urine from ancient times.
How much water can ants drink?
The amount of water an ant drinks relies on the size of its head and the way it drinks. Ants may have workers of varying sizes. The bigger ones consume more water. Different ant species have different sizes. Hence, different species drink amounts of water-based on this. Similarly, the time they take to drink water also differs from species to species.
The mid-sized ant of Camponotus mus has a clear limit for water it drinks in one go. It drinks about 6-8 microliters of sugar water. Smaller ants may drink slightly lesser while bigger ants may drink slightly higher amounts of water.
Meanwhile, the Camponotus Rufipes carry drops of water to their place. They can such from a water drop while carrying it to their nests.
What is the rate at which ants drink water?
The rate of water that ants drank varied depending on the species of ants. The rates provide data on the range of time for which they drank. Besides, this data helps understand the limits of their drinking ability.
The highest amount of water an ant can drink is 35 microlitres. On the other hand, the lowest amount they chose to drink was 0.1 microlitre. On average, an ant drinks between 6 and 8 microliters at a time. Note that one milliliter contains 1000 microlitres.
Do ants drink water to prevent flooding?
Sometimes, ants protect their nests from natural threats like overheating and flooding with the help of their intelligent architecture.
In the arboreal species of Cataulacus muticus, the workers that stay in plant hollows protect their nests from flooding by drinking water. They drink the floodwater from inside their nests and excrete outside.
Meanwhile, another species of Camponotus Anderseni that live among wood cavities of mangrove habitats respond to getting submerged below the water by changing to anaerobic respiration.
Ytong is a type of lightweight concrete found in hardware stores. These materials can be molded into your desired shape. Besides, the material can be re-moisturized again and again. Ytong is very porous and absorbs moisture readily. Hence, it is considered ideal for ant nests as it can maintain the required humidity inside the nests.
Each ant colony begins with a queen that has the task of mating and building a colony of their own. If they stay safe from predators, they dig their own chambers and build a colony by mating. As the colony expands and is ready to make enough offspring, the queen sends worker ants as well as new queens outside.
Ants that break into homes and other habitats are usually the worker ants. These would be sent as scouts from the colony looking to find water and food for survival. In case they find something that benefits them, such as sugary substances, food, or water, they would alert the colony and start a line of transfer for that substance.
Ants look for what they require to survive. This includes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Note that they are most attracted to water, sugar, and salt.