Do insects pass gas?

A STAFF REPORT FROM THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Dear Straight Dope:

Do insects pass flatulence? It's a rather twisted question, but the thought has often entered my mind.

Doug replies:

Um . . . this might depend on how you define "flatulence." An insect’s digestive system bears little resemblance to our own in its structural details, even if the basic process is the same. Flatulence in humans is largely due to the activity of bacteria in our intestines, releasing methane gas. But there are very few insects whose guts contain methane-producing bacteria. In a practical sense, therefore, the only insects for whom the answer is “yes” would be termites, some wood roaches, and a few wood-boring moth and beetle larvae. 

Those termites are something else, though. For more on termite and other animal flatulence, see www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_17 6.html.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.

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