Do Insects Drink Water?

As humans, we are familiar with the process of drinking water to hydrate. Water is one of the most necessary natural resources for the majority of living beings, but is the same true for insects?

Insects do drink water. Water is necessary for the insects’ survival as it ensures that important body processes are carried out. Insects are able to locate and extract water from a number of sources, such as damp rainforests and tropical sticks.

This article will answer several questions related to the ways in which insects search for, process, and utilize water.

Why Do Insects Need Water?

Insects are generally drawn to humid, damp environments. This is because the instinct of all instincts is to gravitate towards essential elements to their survival. 

Like how insects take in oxygen, insects tend to take in water in a more passive fashion. Take food consumption, for example. The insect needs to eat the food so that it can be digested and converted into usable energy. 

For many insects, chewing their food means taking in necessary levels of water. This is an example of passively absorbing water since the objective was to consume food. 

Certain insects, such as stick bugs, need to be misted by water for two possible reasons: absorption by the body and cooling purposes in hot climates.

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What Resources Are Essential for Insects To Survive?

Like humans and all other living organisms, insects require a short list of basic resources essential to their survival. For insects they must have access to the following:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Warmth

All insects must have access to food. The sources of food, as well as portion sizes, vary from one insect species to another. For example, a large insect that requires large portions of leaves would be consuming higher amounts of water through those leaves. Food provides all living organisms with nutrients that allow bodily processes to proceed regularly. 

Water, similar to that of food, is an essential requirement for bodily functions to be carried out. Without water, systems like the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems would be negatively affected and, perhaps, halted altogether. 

The element of shelter is especially important to insects because it involves protecting them from the weather. Extreme weather conditions are dangerous to all living creatures. Insects must seek shelter under rocks or underground, for example. 

A proper internal temperature is also necessary for bodily processes to be carried out. At ideal temperatures, insects can breathe, feed, reproduce, and many other essential bodily functions. 

How Do Insects Drink Water?

There are two basic ways that an insect can consume water: chewing and sucking (or inhaling). Chewing insects typically would intake water through chewing on leaves. The excess water on the surface of the leaves is a sufficient source of this basic nutrient. Insects that would qualify as chewers would include caterpillars, for example. For chewing insects, it is not easy to draw water from a pond. This makes chewing the simplest, most natural way of consuming water. 

Insects, such as mosquitos, are considered suckers. The most notable identifying factor that is present in suckers is the proboscis. The proboscis is a tube-like mouthpiece that allows insects to draw liquid into their body from ponds, rivers, and puddles, for example. One of the major liquids (other than water) that may be inhaled through the proboscis is nectar. 

Insects such as bees and wasps are generally drawn toward sweet, sticky nectar. In fact, this is the exact reason why wasps are drawn to sugary drinks, like soda, on a humid summer day. 

Since mosquitos are considered blood-sucking organisms, the blood that they consume could contain sufficient levels of water and nutrients. This useful adaptation is present in many other insects, serving as a simple way to absorb more than just one necessary nutrient. 

The methods by which insects take in water is known as a passive system. This is similar to how insects absorb oxygen through small openings on the surface of their skin. 

Where Can Insects Find Water?

As mentioned in the previous section, there are two ways that insects can consume water. However, how do they locate the water sources? 

Herbivorous insects, specifically, need to search a little harder for water compared to their carnivorous counterparts. In lush environments such as warm, damp rainforests, vegetation is readily available. Herbivorous insects who feed on this vegetation can obtain sufficient amounts of water from their food source. 

Since most herbivorous insects also fall under the category of chewing insects, it is natural for them to obtain their necessary water levels from tropical sticks, for example. 

How Much Water Do Insects Need?

It is known that smaller animals, such as insects, do not require nearly as much water when compared to larger animals. Similarly, smaller animals do not need to seek and obtain a water source as frequently as larger animals. 

Arthropods, such as millipedes, can extract a sufficient amount of water from the plant matter they feed on. The same is true for certain flies, which can extract water from the fruits that they feed on. 

The mantis, much like other chewing insects, can extract water from the leaves that they chew on. Both the mantis and millipedes are considered predators, so it is important to note that an insect could be both a chewing insect and a predator. 

For most insects, a single raindrop is a sufficient serving of water. The exact amount of water necessary varies slightly depending on both the bug’s size and the temperature of their climate. 

Does Every Insect Need Water?

The short answer is yes. All insects require water as an essential resource for survival. Water falls into the same category as food, shelter, and warmth. For that reason, all insects will seek water sources periodically to replenish their supply as needed. 

While insects practice numerous different tactics to obtain a sufficient amount of water, they must seek a water source. As mentioned in the previous section, some insects will require a greater amount of water than others. This all depends, of course, on many factors. 

Can Insects Survive in Water?

Drinking from large water sources could be dangerous to insects if they fall into the water. Insects can store oxygen temporarily, however, and are capable of using trapped oxygen to survive underwater. This trapped oxygen temporarily protects the insects’ ability to breathe. 

Certain insects will seek an underwater environment as another place to search for food supplies. This instinct is related to the insects’ constant search for a damp environment. 

Certain insects, such as bed bugs, are capable of surviving for up to 24 hours underwater. Due to their lightweight build, however, bed bugs will remain afloat when placed into water.

Conclusion

Insects do, in fact, drink water. Insects are capable of obtaining, storing, and utilizing water just as many other living organisms do. How insects carry out these necessary processes, however, varies drastically from other living things.

In addition, some insects may seek an underwater environment as part of their search for food. This can be accomplished thanks to the presence of trapped oxygen.

Several resources are essential to the survival of insects, yet, water is one of the most crucial. Most insects only require a minimal amount of water.

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