Pee is for Propulsion

New insight on jet technology from… insect pee?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Attention 11 year olds! What do ‘butt-flickers,’ ‘frass-shooters,’ and ‘turd-hurlers’ have in common? They’re all sharpshooter insects that shoot their pee! And they can do it super fast. But how?

Elio Challita and team from the Georgia Institute of Technology aimed to find out. 

Using computer modeling, they discovered that these insects use ‘super propulsion,’ something only(?) previously seen in man-made devices. This is where a projectile is launched at faster speeds than the mechanism itself moves. The insects use their anuses like a catapult to fling excretions at super fast speeds. Think of it as a butt slingshot for hurling pee droplets! There’s really no other description.

This mechanism is HIGHLY energy efficient, allowing sharpshooters to survive on a low-calorie diet! Further research could provide insight on making current engines even faster!

Booyah, these insects put the PEE in PEEk performance! *Psssssss*


Challita, E. J., Sehgal, P., Krugner, R., & Bhamla, M. S. (2023). Droplet superpropulsion in an energetically constrained insect. Nature Communications, 14(1).