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

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?

It’s almost certainly terminal, but can take up to 100 years to kill you.

Yep Yuck, dangerous I doubt. Considering chocolate covered ants are a favorites by some.

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.


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!

Isnt ant-acid good for relieving heart burn.

Do a search on ‘entomophagy’.

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.


The Pink Panther joke about dead ants…


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.

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! :smiley:

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…

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.

An adult human is comprised of about 10[sup]14[/sup] cells. About 10[sup]13[/sup] 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 10[sup]12[/sup] E. coli cells in you already.


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.

Wouldn’t you get some roughage out of ants and some protein, too?

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.

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.

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…

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://www.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).

Of course, on the grossness scale that rates a definite 7.