AskDefine | Define insectivorous

Dictionary Definition

insectivorous adj : (of animals and plants) feeding on insects [ant: carnivorous, herbivorous, omnivorous]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. feeding on insects
  2. In the context of "of a plant": capable of trapping and absorbing insects; such as the sundew, pitcher plant and Venus flytrap


Extensive Definition

An insectivore is a type of carnivore with a diet that consists chiefly of insects and similar small creatures. Although individually small, insects exist in enormous numbers and make up a very large part of the animal biomass in almost all non-marine environments. In Queensland pastures, for example, it is normal to have a greater total weight of Scarabaeidae larvae under the surface than of the beef cattle grazing above it.
A great many creatures depend on insects as their primary diet, and many that do not (and are thus not technically insectivores) nevertheless use insects as a protein supplement, particularly when they are breeding.
The biological order Insectivora includes a number of mammals which happen to be insectivores, but there is no necessary link. Just as many members of the order known as Carnivora are actually omnivores (and one, the Giant Panda, is an herbivore), several members of the Insectivora do not eat insects.
Some examples of insectivores include nightingale, aardwolf, echidna, swallows, anteaters, carp, frogs, lizards, bats, and spiders. Insects also can be insectivores. Examples would be dragonflies, hornets, ladybugs, and praying mantises.
Insectivorous plants also exist, including the Venus flytrap, several types of pitcher plants, butterworts, sundews, bladderworts, the waterwheel plant, brocchinia bromeliads, and others. These generally grow in nitrogen-poor soils, which they instead obtain by trapping insects. Technically these plants are not strictly insectivorous, as they consume any animal small enough to be trapped by them; indeed, the larger varieties of pitcher plant have been known to consume small rodents and lizards.

See also

insectivorous in Spanish: Insectívoro
insectivorous in French: Insectivore
insectivorous in Indonesian: Insektivora
insectivorous in Maltese: Insettivoru
insectivorous in Norwegian: Insekteter
insectivorous in Portuguese: Insectívoro
insectivorous in Simple English: Insectivore
insectivorous in Tamil: பூச்சியுண்ணி

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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