It is well known that a variety of insect pests like cockroaches, ants, pantry pests, and maggots feed on human foods and crumbs within homes. In addition to human foods, cockroaches will eat anything that is organic, including dead insects, excrement and dead animals. Silverfish will readily eat starchy foods like oats, but they also eat dead insects, paper and glue. Some pests eat the same things indoors that they do outdoors, and this is especially the case for arthropods that prey on insects. For example, spiders and centipedes both prey on outdoor and indoor insects, and a large number of spiders or centipedes within a home indicates that an insect infestation may have been established. However, the manner in which insect pests consume water is not so clear.

All insects need water in order to survive, and there are a variety of ways in which insects consume water. Water consumption methods differ tremendously among insect species, but some insects obtain all of the water they need from solid foods. Subterranean termites live below the ground where moist soil keeps them hydrated, but they also obtain water by feeding on wood that has become saturated with moisture. Drywood termites are able to survive on the small amount of water within dry wood sources. A large number of insects obtain water solely from their diet of plant nectar and sap. These insects suck plant juices through a needle-like mouthpart that they use to penetrate plant stems. Aphids and other plant sucking insects expel plant nectar as a sweet-tasting substance known as “honeydew.” Some ant pests constantly protect aphids in order to regularly feed on their honeydew. Insect pests that feed on plant juices include aphids, assassin bugs, moths and mosquitoes.

Because assassin bugs, bed bugs and female mosquitoes are carnivorous, they use their sucking mouthpart to penetrate skin and suck blood. Since male mosquitoes are herbivores, they only suck plant juices. Many female biting fly pests, such as horse flies and black flies, also use a piercing mouthpart to feed on blood, while males only feed on plant nectar. Occasionally, carnivorous insects sip water from the edges of puddles and ponds. Indoor fly pests like house flies, fruit flies and drain flies are known as “sponging insects” because they soak up fluids and liquified solids with a sponge-like mouthpart called a “labellum.” Pillbugs are common indoor pests that are unique for consuming fluids through their mouth and rearend, but they do not need to drink often because they never urinate; instead, they occasionally dispel liquid waste as ammonia gas.

Have you ever witnessed insects consuming fluids?