Beetles ‘drink’ water from the air through their butts

We don't understand it either, but scientists apparently do!
The flour beetle was used in a recent study of how these insects 'drink'. (ID 209690444 © Tomasz Klejdysz |

Most of us understand that it is important to stay hydrated, or to regularly drink water. And that doesn't just go for us humans.

That is pretty much the rule for all living things. It's just that some animals have a different way of going about it.

Take the beetle, for example. It gets its water not by drinking it, but by absorbing it.

From the air.

Through its butt.

And no. Even though it is April 1 today, this is not a prank. It's the real deal.

And now, a team of scientists from Denmark and Scotland believe that they know how these amazing insects do it!

Dry weather experts

Beetles are known for their ability to survive nearly anywhere, including very dry habitats like deserts. Any desert animal has to be careful to manage the water in its body. They all have ways to either reduce how much water is lost through everyday processes like sweating, panting, or peeing.

But beetles are especially well designed for this, and not just the desert species either. Even though most species never really drink water through their mouths, they have two incredible ways that their butt helps them conserve and take in water.

Every last drop

The first way is their efficient organs, especially their kidney and rectum, which work together to extract the maximum amount of water from the waste their body creates. Okay, hold tight, this might get gross...

When most animals, including humans, poop, we actually lose quite a bit of moisture. That's fine, our bodies are designed to do that.

But beetles? Their bodies hold on to as much water as possible. This ability is thanks to the high salt content in their kidneys (salt absorbs water), and the close position of their kidneys to their butts. Their poop is dry because the kidneys absorb the water.

Like a sponge

The other way that beetle butts help keep them hydrated is that they can literally absorb water from moist air.

This process works best in times of high humidity (this is when there is a lot of evaporated water in the air). Essentially, their butts capture the air and recycle its water into their bodies.

For humans, butts are, well, the butt of a lot of jokes. But at the same time, they are an essential part of how animal bodies function. Thanks to these parts of our bodies, we and other creatures can process food, extract nutrients, create waste of the things that we don't need.

Beetles are the same—it's just that their butts can do these things with super efficiency, as well as having some bonus features. Whatever works for you, beetle buddies!

Write a message

Tell US what you think

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


 :-)  ;-)  :-D  :-(  :-P  :-o  :-x  :-|  :-?  8-)  8-O  :cry:  :lol:  :roll:  :idea:  :!:  :?:  :oops:

The last 10 Planet articles