PDA

View Full Version : I drank water with dead ants in it: how bad is this for me?


MsWhich
08-18-2003, 01:40 AM
I'm probably overreacting, but ants really squick me out ever since I saw some Discovery channel program on ants explaining that they track bacteria around. Now whenever I see an ant, I imagine a little glowing trail of e. coli or staph or what have you, left in its wake.

Anyway, I refilled my water glass earlier and took several big swigs out of it, only to notice that there were a couple dead ants floating in the water. Yuck. Apart from the total grossness factor, is there any way that ingesting ants or water in which dead ants have been floating can harm you? I'm guessing not so much but thought I'd ask around and find out anyway.

And, might I say again, yuck?

Andy
08-18-2003, 01:44 AM
It's almost certainly terminal, but can take up to 100 years to kill you.

ParentalAdvisory
08-18-2003, 01:51 AM
Yep Yuck, dangerous I doubt. Considering chocolate covered ants are a favorites by some.

Linear Crack
08-18-2003, 01:54 AM
Well, maybe dead ants are worse than live ones, but after eating a candy bar loaded with live ants (it was dark, and I was half asleep), I still survived with minimal mental damage.

Though I must add they were very sour.

-LC

MC Master of Ceremonies
08-18-2003, 01:58 AM
Originally posted by Linear Crack
Well, maybe dead ants are worse than live ones, but after eating a candy bar loaded with live ants (it was dark, and I was half asleep), I still survived with minimal mental damage.

Though I must add they were very sour.

-LC

yep, that's the formic acid that gives them their distinct taste.

To the OP:I don't get why you're so worried, dead ants are good eating!

antechinus
08-18-2003, 02:27 AM
Isnt ant-acid good for relieving heart burn.

Do a search on 'entomophagy'.

quarrossimo
08-18-2003, 02:27 AM
When we were kids and complained about dead ants in our drinking water, we were told that consuming them would sharpen our eyesight!

Seeing that all of us are alive and well (?) today, I'd say dead ants are not really harmful.

:D

----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Pink Panther joke about dead ants...

antechinus
08-18-2003, 02:33 AM
According to HOW TO USE INSECTS AS FOOD (http://members.aol.com/keninga/insects.htm):

"Black ants can be eaten raw whereas fire ants are not considered to be edible."

Vision of Love
08-18-2003, 04:41 AM
I remember when I was young and my family lived in an aparment with cockroaches around, I filled a glass with water without looking and took a little sip... Then I looked into the glass and saw about 4 tiny cockroaches, sinkers and floaters, in my drinking water. *dies*

I'm not sure if I actually did drink one, but yuck! I tried to feel out the inside of my mouth but didn't find any. I can't imagine how I would've screamed if I found anything inside.

Rabid_Squirrel
08-18-2003, 06:10 AM
Yes, they are going to lay eggs. Yes, they are going to grow over the next five years. Yes, they are going to burrow out one day.




However, I do have a special rock that can counteract the poison. I can sell it to you for US$295. Come on, I'm cutting me own throat 'ere! :D

Fop
08-18-2003, 06:37 AM
Ooh! A Discworld quote!
"In the Fyres of Struggle let us bake New Men, who Will Notte heed the old Lies."
*slaps himself*
Oh yeah, I was going to say something on topic too.
Where do you live to suddenly get ants and worse in your drinking water? Nothing like that ever happened to me...

panache45
08-18-2003, 06:57 AM
Drinking dead ants is not bad for you, but it's very bad for the ants.

And of course the lingering question: What killed the ants? And might it also kill you?


Reminds me of the Pink Panther theme:

Dead ant . . . . . . dead ant . . . . . . dead ant dead ant dead ant.

Desmostylus
08-18-2003, 07:00 AM
Originally posted by MsWhatsit
Now whenever I see an ant, I imagine a little glowing trail of e. coli or staph or what have you, left in its wake. An adult human is comprised of about 1014 cells. About 1013 of those (10%) are human cells. Most of the rest are bacteria, while sundry protozoans, nematodes, etc., make up the balance. About 1% of the bacteria are E. coli, so you have about 1012 E. coli cells in you already.

http://madsci.org/posts/archives/dec96/840131722.Dv.r.html

An ordinary black ant weighs about 2 mg, or (roughly) on fifty-millionth what you do. Assuming that she has about the same number of E. coli cells per unit mass that you do, she'll give you about 20,000 of them when you swallow her. I doubt your gut would notice the extra 20,000 amongst the 1,000,000,000,000 that were there already.

Finagle
08-18-2003, 07:55 AM
Originally posted by Desmostylus
An adult human is comprised of about 1014 cells. About 1013 of those (10%) are human cells. Most of the rest are bacteria, while sundry protozoans, nematodes, etc., make up the balance. About 1% of the bacteria are E. coli, so you have about 1012 E. coli cells in you already.

http://madsci.org/posts/archives/dec96/840131722.Dv.r.html

An ordinary black ant weighs about 2 mg, or (roughly) on fifty-millionth what you do. Assuming that she has about the same number of E. coli cells per unit mass that you do, she'll give you about 20,000 of them when you swallow her. I doubt your gut would notice the extra 20,000 amongst the 1,000,000,000,000 that were there already.

That would be sort of comforting if it weren't true that we can get sick from eating foods infected with bacteria. So the "sheer number" theory really doesn't stand up.

The cell count also seems a bit misleading. I wouldn't say the human body is "comprised" of 90% bacteria -- "co-resident" might be a better word. And I would guess that the mass of our own cells is greater than 95% of the total mass, especially since most of those symbiotes and parasites tend to hang out in the gut.

PurplePerson
08-18-2003, 08:00 AM
Wouldn't you get some roughage out of ants and some protein, too?

Desmostylus
08-18-2003, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by Finagle
That would be sort of comforting if it weren't true that we can get sick from eating foods infected with bacteria. So the "sheer number" theory really doesn't stand up.

The cell count also seems a bit misleading. I wouldn't say the human body is "comprised" of 90% bacteria -- "co-resident" might be a better word. And I would guess that the mass of our own cells is greater than 95% of the total mass, especially since most of those symbiotes and parasites tend to hang out in the gut. Get real. The composition I gave was purely in terms of cell count. And if you want to find a citation for gastroenteritis caused by E. coli from ingested ants, go right ahead. Then we'll discuss it further.

Mangetout
08-18-2003, 08:14 AM
Your body can cope with a certain influx of pathogenic bacteria (or else you'd be ill all the time); the problem arises when you ingest a sufficient quantity to give them a really good head start in multiplying inside your digestive system.

The biggest risk from drinking water containing dead insects would be if it has been allowed to stand for some time, the bodies of the insects would break down and provide nutrients for bacterial growth.
The second biggest risk would be if the insects themselves were poisonous.

Simply drinking some water with a few recently-dead (or still kicking) ants in it isn't going to do you any harm at all and may in fact be good for you in some small way.

Evil Captor
08-18-2003, 08:16 AM
As a kid, I was late for an after-school project and hastily wolfed down some pancakes with syrup. After I had eaten the pancakes, I noticed that the syrup bottle was chock full of dead ants. So was the syrup remnants on my plate. I hadn't noticed any taste, perhaps because the sweet syrup covered the formic acid, and it dodn't bother me much. Then again, I've also eaten pony, whale, deer, squirrle, alligator and rattlesnake meat. Surprisingly, it didn't all taste like chicken.

As a cyclist, I have also ingested several bugs of unknown origin while riding, again with ill effect for me. Now, as for the bugs...

Finagle
08-18-2003, 12:58 PM
Originally posted by Desmostylus
Get real. The composition I gave was purely in terms of cell count. And if you want to find a citation for gastroenteritis caused by E. coli from ingested ants, go right ahead. Then we'll discuss it further.

Well, I still think cell count is a misleading description of what is essentially intestinal floral.

I did not, however, find any references to gastroenteritis caused by insect ingestion, although realistically, how would you know? And it doesn't seem a lot of research has been done, aside from a study on Pharoah ants in hospitals that indicates that they can carry some nasty stuff.

Still, if you want to be either fascinated or disgusted (depending on your tolerance for gastronomic adventures), try reading http://food-insects.com/Insects%20as%20Human%20Food.htm. Some of the other reading on food-insects.com is pretty interesting, although I will not be frying up any yellowjacket pupae anytime soon. (Most of their recipes seem to involve a light frying that I assume would eliminate whatever risk of bacterial contamination there might be in any given locust, ant, or house cricket).

photopat
08-18-2003, 02:45 PM
Of course, on the grossness scale that rates a definite 7.

MsWhich
08-18-2003, 06:58 PM
Thanks for the commentary, everybody.

In an interesting coincidence, I did contract some sort of horrendous gastrointestinal virus and have spent most of today either lying on the couch wishing I would throw up already, or running to the bathroom to throw up. However, MrWhatsit had the same problem yesterday, and did not (to his recollection) ingest any ants, dead or otherwise, so I think it's unrelated.

For the record, the ants in question were pharaoh ants, which as far as I know are not poisonous, and the means of demise was falling into the glass of water. I will not be going so far as to throw a couple ants into my water glass in the future in order to provide "roughage", but I think I will not worry about it much either.

gentle
08-18-2003, 07:41 PM
Originally posted by Desmostylus
Get real. The composition I gave was purely in terms of cell count. And if you want to find a citation for gastroenteritis caused by E. coli from ingested ants, go right ahead. Then we'll discuss it further.

It is fairly well established that houseflies spread H. Pylori (http://cnn.com/HEALTH/9708/28/nfm.flies.ulcers/), so the idea that ants could spread other harmful stuff is not outlandish.

Horrifying Howler Monkey
08-18-2003, 08:36 PM
One day when I was slacking and watching the discovery channel I saw a program about insects that stated if it weren't for the taste, ants would be considered nature's popcorn. Just thought I would share, I found it funny at the time.

irshu355
02-24-2016, 09:51 PM
My cubicle mug has lots of ant in it when i come for work in the morning. I just filter out them and drink the water. Been doing it for 3 years, and i'm seems to be doing great. I'm a lot fit now (well, i dont think the ant water had anything to do with it, though) :)

I also heard, eating ants are good for eyes, i dont know how scientifically accurate that is.

Marine_One
02-24-2016, 10:02 PM
Do you have an urge to go to a picnic?

buddha_david
02-24-2016, 10:11 PM
Zombie ants. Great.

cochrane
02-24-2016, 11:01 PM
I was going to make a Pink Panther joke until I noticed panache45 beat me to it by 13 years!

biqu
02-26-2016, 09:25 AM
Zombie or not, since the OP there has been a staff report (https://academicpursuits.us/columns/read/2246/are-ants-disease-carriers) on the subject. Here's a germane quote from that report:

We'd be lucky if we were as sterile and disease-free as an ant. Ants almost never get sick compared to humans. You introduce far deadlier microbes into your body simply by using two unwashed fingers to touch your cookies than would a million ants.

Atamasama
02-26-2016, 12:20 PM
You could market that stuff as protein water.

watchwolf49
02-26-2016, 12:54 PM
The OP last posted back in October, so she survived.

edwards_beard
02-26-2016, 03:28 PM
There is a story that Ozzy Osbourne snorted a line of ants. He is still perfectly normal.

Dinsdale
02-26-2016, 08:34 PM
Ate some termites on a recent vacation. Yeah, not ants, and these were live, free-range beasts plucked off the nest, but never crossed my mind there would be a problem.

Don't many processed foods have acceptable limits of insect parts?

Ludovic
02-26-2016, 10:37 PM
Zombie ants. Great.For those who might not know yet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis).

eclectic wench
02-27-2016, 09:31 AM
When I was a kid in Africa and the flying ants swarmed, we used to collect scoops of them, fry them and eat them. For years I thought they tasted like peanuts (except with a bit of a sour tang) until I realised we'd been frying them in peanut oil.

wanderer2575
02-29-2016, 04:52 PM
Dave Barry would suggest a marketing campaign: Now With Extra Protein!

Arrendajo
02-29-2016, 05:32 PM
There is also this zombie ant (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080117-ant-berries.html).

Siam Sam
02-29-2016, 07:19 PM
Ants? Pfft! You should get a load of the insects they pay to eat in northeastern Thailand.

Blue Blistering Barnacle
02-29-2016, 08:11 PM
I'm probably overreacting, but ants really squick me out ever since I saw some Discovery channel program on ants explaining that they track bacteria around. Now whenever I see an ant, I imagine a little glowing trail of e. coli or staph or what have you, left in its wake.

Anyway, I refilled my water glass earlier and took several big swigs out of it, only to notice that there were a couple dead ants floating in the water. Yuck. Apart from the total grossness factor, is there any way that ingesting ants or water in which dead ants have been floating can harm you? I'm guessing not so much but thought I'd ask around and find out anyway.

And, might I say again, yuck?

Yeah, I know this is a zombie.

BUT, I'm having trouble reconciling the assertion in the OP that ants trail bacteria with this Straight Dope answer by Doug.

https://academicpursuits.us/columns/read/2246/are-ants-disease-carriers

I'm inclined to go with Doug on this one and assume that TV misinforms yet again.

TonyRV2
03-04-2016, 10:14 AM
If these were free range organically fed ants you'll likely be ok. If these were your run of the mill ants produced by corporate breeders for mass consumption you'll likely die of cancer.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Best Topics: windshield shade band real life resolution oriental asian passport expires orgasm while breastfeeding fan nickname mustang c code hook tinkerbell alfie scopp can't find printer tungsten ring ebay malkmus board masks by shel silverstein songs titles with baby what does vh1 stand for how hot are pizza ovens there's a place in france how much to fix dent on car dead termites on floor i don't wanna go to mexico no more more more mama's got a squeeze box keeping moisture out of car