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Insectivorous animals: what are they and list of examples

There is a huge variety of species within the animal kingdom, and not all have the same type of diet. However, many mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arachnids, and even insects share the insectivorous diet.

In this AgroCorrn article we will talk about those beings that feed on insects exclusively or almost exclusively, insectivorous animals . Find out here its main characteristics, the list of examples and other curiosities, such as other types of insectivorous living beings and the regions of the world in which it is common to eat insects.

  1. What are insectivorous or entomophagous animals – definition
  2. Characteristics of insectivorous animals
  3. List of insectivorous animals
  4. Insectivorous plants
  5. What is entomophagy

What are insectivorous or entomophagous animals – definition

The term insectivore or entomophagus refers to any living being that feeds on invertebrates , mainly insects, but also arachnids, snails and worms. Insects are tiny animals belonging to the phylum of arthropods, commonly recognized by sporting two antennae, two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs.

Insects are very numerous, being present in almost all the ecosystems of the planet, and they play a fundamental role in the food chain. They are the food base of many animals, basically insectivores, but they are also part of the supplementary diet of many other animals.

Some species have eating habits different from those properly insectivorous, such as frugivores or granivores, for example, but they look to insects for the animal protein they need at certain times of their life, such as in the breeding season. Other species adapt to the insectivorous diet only in certain periods of their life, as is the case of some reptiles at birth, which feed on insects only during their first months of life.

Characteristics of insectivorous animals

The main characteristics of insectivorous animals are the following:

  • Resistant, thick and robust stomach. The need to digest certain strong parts or compounds, such as chitin present in arthropods, forces insectivores to have a resistant stomach.
  • The hearing of insectivores is acute. Many communicate with grunts and hisses and some even use echolocation as a technique to detect and hunt their prey, mainly at night.
  • The vision of these animals is often poor, along with normally small eyes.
  • The smell of these animals is usually highly developed. In addition, their snouts are usually quite flexible and with sensory whiskers that allow them to locate their prey.
  • Long and easily adherent tongues. Many reptiles and amphibians and some mammals and birds use the modified tongue technique or another specialized organ to easily hunt their prey.
  • Generally, the extremities of insectivores consist of five fingers and they move supporting the entire sole and heel of their feet and hands on the ground (plantigrades).
  • Use of vibrissae in the case of birds. The vibrissae are very sensitive hairs that allow birds to detect the flight of insects that venture to pass near them.

List of insectivorous animals

Here we leave a list of insectivorous animals separated by the different types of animals (birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians , fish and insects):

Insectivorous birds

  • Golondrina
  • Robin
  • Sparrow
  • Goldfinch
  • Woodpecker
  • Mockingbird
  • Mirlo
  • hoopoe
  • Verdines
  • Flycatcher
  • Tyranids
  • Abejaruco
  • Parulids
  • Alondra
  • Starling
  • Zorzal
  • Magpies (some types)
  • Chickens
  • Turkeys

Insectivorous reptiles

  • Crocodiles
  • Chameleons
  • Geckos
  • Geckos
  • Iguanas
  • Red bellied snake
  • Chionactes snake
  • Ficimia snake
  • Sonoran snake
  • Liopeltis snake
  • serpiente small
  • Glyalopion snake
  • Opheodrys snake
  • Ameiva
  • Blanus
  • Dendrocops
  • Thorny devil
  • Cophosaurus
  • Anniella
  • Common lizard
  • Cinderella lizard
  • Long-tailed lizard
  • Rock lizard
  • Crystal lizard
  • Pipe lizard
  • Cordylus
  • two-legged
  • Cnemidophorus
  • Sceloropus (spiny lizards)
  • Holbrookia
  • Xantusia

Insectivorous mammals

  • Anteater
  • Suricata
  • Mongoose
  • Bat
  • Armadillo
  • Raccoon
  • Common hedgehog
  • Hedgehog hedgehog
  • Erizo atelerix
  • Aardvark
  • Pangolin
  • Numbat
  • White-toothed shrew
  • Top
  • African porcupine
  • Common mouse
  • Prairie dog
  • galago
  • Sugar glider
  • Tenrec sin cola
  • Desman
  • Alchemy
  • American mink
  • Hairy-tailed mole
  • Tarsier

Insectivorous amphibians

  • Salamandra
  • Triton
  • Marine toad
  • European green frog
  • Bull frog
  • Rana bermeja
  • Green toad
  • Fire-bellied toad
  • Spotted toad
  • Marine toad
  • Sapillo pintojo
  • Midwife soap
  • runner toad

Insectivorous fish

  • Tents
  • Cichlid fish
  • Rainbow Fish
  • Blowfish
  • Catfish
  • Beta fish
  • Tang fish
  • Pez killis
  • Ax fish
  • Palometa o mojarra
  • Mormiridae
  • Cypriniformes
  • Serrasálmids
  • Petioles
  • Toxotides

Insectivorous insects

  • Bee
  • Dragonflies
  • Mariquita
  • Avispa
  • Praying mantis
  • Beetle
  • Bedbugs
  • Crisopas
  • Bullet ant
  • Big yellow ant
  • Ant-lion
  • Cornfield ant
  • Acrobat ant
  • Velvety tree ant
  • Chicatana ant
  • Pharaoh ant
  • Robber ant
  • Stilt ant
  • Flies

Insectivorous arachnids

  • Black widow
  • Fiddler spider
  • Chick Spider
  • Corner spider
  • Giant Huntress Spider
  • Wheat spider
  • Hercules spider
  • Camel spiders
  • Wolf spider
  • Red back spider
  • Funnel web spider
  • Tarantula baboon king
  • Tarántula Goliat

Insectivorous plants

As surprising as it may seem, there are some plants that base their diet on insects and other invertebrates. The insectivorous plants , also called carnivorous plants, use special techniques to attract prey and then devour them .

These mechanisms can be active, like movements; semi-active, with slight movements; or passive, such as smells, colors, shapes or sugars that attract insects. Once ingested, plants use special mechanisms that facilitate the digestion process.

In addition to feeding on flies, spiders, ants, worms and other invertebrates, plants can also occasionally feed on small vertebrates, such as lizards or small mice, hence they are also known as carnivores. Whatever the “victim”, the plant assimilates the main nutrients it needs to live on this food source.

Next, we leave you a list with some of those insectivorous plants .

  • Nepenthes
  • Genlisea
  • Pinguicula
  • Byblis
  • Heliampliora
  • Cephalotus
  • Drosera
  • Aldrovanda
  • Darlingtonia
  • Sarracenia
  • Drosophyllum
  • Triphyophyllum
  • Dionaea
  • Utricularia

In this other article we give you information on How carnivorous plants eat .

What is entomophagy

The entomofagia is known as the consumption of insects and arachnids by humans . Although in certain parts of the world this may sound like poverty or a shortage of other foods, the truth is that entomophagy is practiced in more places than we think, and not precisely because of the lack of other food, but because its taste is very popular.

In addition, not only its flavor attracts more and more interested in gastronomy with insects , but also its high protein content and high quality nutrients. All this has caused some insects to be highly valued for human consumption in many parts of the planet, as is the case of the fly roe in Mexico.

Next, we present a list of countries where entomophagy is common and the types of insects that are most consumed.

Countries where insects are consumed the most

  • Mexico
  • China
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • Central African Republic
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Morocco
  • Somalia
  • Cameroon
  • Angola
  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Japan
  • Chile
  • Australia
  • India
  • Uruguay
  • USA

The insects that are consumed the most

  • Beetles (31%)
  • Butterflies and moths (18%)
  • Bees, wasps and ants (14%)
  • Grasshopper (13%)
  • Aphids, cicadas, bed bugs (10%)
  • Others (14%)

If you want to read more articles similar to Insectivorous animals: what they are and a list of examples , we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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