Ants are fascinating to watch. These hard-working, almost indestructible insects have a lot of biological tools at their disposal to help them survive and thrive in a variety of environments,
But a common rumor seems to be going around that ants pee acid.
Is it true that ants pee or secrete acid?
Do Ants Pee Acid?
To retain moisture, ants secrete both urine and fecal matter simultaneously, excreting urea, the main component of urine, as uric acid. Much like humans, their waste product is slightly acidic, but not to the degree that it can be called an acid.
Ants’ pee is slightly acidic, but it’s not pure acid as you might imagine. There’s a lot of interesting facts behind how ants get rid of waste and stay sanitary.
The rest of this article will discuss whether ants secrete acid and if their waste is acidic
Do Ants Secrete Acid?
Some ant species produce acid for defensive purposes. If an enemy approaches, the ant will use the acid produced in a poison gland in their abdomen to send a discharge of acid at enemies.
Ants will also drink up that acid so that other ants eating the prey won’t get bacterial infections.
Do Ants Pee and Poop?
Ants mix their pee and poop before it’s expelled, leading to a fibrous substance called frass. They do this because ants can’t spare the moisture to pee.
As such, the frass they produce is a mixture of both. Believe it or not, ants are very selective about where they take their bathroom trips in the colony. They have a ‘bathroom’ where they’ll go and workers who transport the waste outside to keep the colony sanitary.
What Acid Comes from Ants?
Formic acid is the acid produced in the poison gland in an ant’s abdomen. This venom is transmitted to the target via spraying or through the stinger. As it turns out, ants do not produce acid in their bite.
Do Ants Spray Acid?
Some species of ant will spray acid at their enemies with deadly intent. While not so dangerous for us humans, to something an ant’s size, their venom can blind or main a target. This behavior is vicious and terrifying, even being deadly enough to blind and maim birds.
Ants will do this when their turf is threatened by a large invader or when fighting rival ant colonies, and the behavior is performed simultaneously by many members of the colony to defend their home.
Do Fire Ants Spray Acid?
Fire ants have their sinister name for a reason. If you’ve ever stepped on a fire ant hill, then you know just how painful their bites and stings can be. They are invasive and more than capable of decimating rival ant populations.
They do not, however, spray acid on the bite wound like other ants. Instead, they bite to get a grip so that they can inject an alkaloid venom called solenopsin. This creates the painful stinging and burning sensation associated with fire ant bites (stings, more accurately).
While painful for a human, this attack strategy is quite deadly on other animals who venture too close, and a team of fire ants can easily take down larger prey like lizards and geckos, effectively stinging them to death.
Ants don’t pee acid; instead, they combine their waste into a single dry product called frass. They can spray acid at invaders or rival ant colonies in an attempt to blind or main them.
Lastly, some species of ants, like fire ants, will bite just to get a good grip so that they can sting the victim, applying their venom.