What do insects eat?

In this brief blog, we will answer the query,”What do insects eat?” We will explain what insects are and look at some types of insects including frugivorous insecst and carnivorous insects. We will also discuss some other food sources for insects.

What do insects eat?

Majority of insects eat plants and their parts which include leaves, stems, seeds and their flowers. Caterpillars are considered one of the most herbivorous insects because they consume a large volume of leaves.

They consume a lot of leaves in preparation for the pupal stage and subsequent metamorphosis. Apart from the herbivorous insects such as caterpillars, there are also Frugivorous insects and Carnivorous insects, we will look at them shortly but first let’s look at what insects are.

What are insects?

Insects fall within the kingdom Animalia & phylum Arthropods. Arthropods are defined as invertebrates that have segmented bodies and distinct exoskeletons. An invertebrate is an animal without a vertebral column.

Exoskeleton is a skeleton that’s on the outside of an animal body instead of being on the inside. It is estimated that there are over 6 million species of insects. Some animals which are not insects but are always confused to be are snails, spiders, worms, slugs, centipedes and millipedes.

What are Frugivorous insects?

Frugivorous insects are insects that feed on fruits. Some examples of such insects are wasps, hornets, some flies among others. Frugivorous insects usually feed on overly ripe fruits or fruits that are decaying. The fruits are an excellent source of carbs and other essential nutrients to them.

Most of these insects are pests with a few being beneficial. They can cause a lot of economic losses when they affect large scale crops and are therefore usually sprayed with insecticides. Insecticides have led to a boost in agricultural productivity but come with their fair share of environmental effects.

What are Carnivorous insects?

Carnivorous insects are insects that have a diet that includes meat. Some of these insects eat other insects, others drink blood with others consuming decaying animal flesh (carrion). Some examples of these insects are Praying mantises and dragonflies which feed on other insects.

Dragonflies are the best known carnivorous insects and they consume butterflies, midges, small mantises, mosquitoes and moths. Praying mantises as well eat small mantises and some small vertebrates such as lizards, small fish and frogs.

Female praying mantises are known for practicing what is known as sexual cannibalism. This is whereby they eat males that attempt to mate with them. After consuming the male’s head, the male continues with the copulation. 

The Hawaiian caterpillar is another carnivorous insect. These ones usually make use of silk traps to hunt down slugs.

Some other insects that feed on carrion are over 200 different species of flesh flies, blowfly and carrion beetles. Flesh flies usually deposit larva in decomposing flesh or in animal’s open wounds usually for sustenance purposes.

Carrion beetles are a whole family of beetles that are known as Silphidae. They usually consume carrion during all stages of decomposition which are fresh, bloated, decay and dry flesh. Blowflies also known as calliphorids as well feed on decaying animals.

They can smell and pick up dead matter to a range of two miles away. Some insects also feed on blood; some examples include mosquitoes and flies. These blood sucking insects also feed on plant nectars.

What are some other food sources for insects?

Some insects feed on dung and animal feces as a food source. Dung beetles are a good example, these insects usually collect fecal matter and roll it up into a large ball. They use it for food and also as a breeding chamber. 

Other dung beetles known as tunnelers usually find dung and bury it, then return back to consume it. Tunnelers are said to bury upto 250 times of their weight in just a day. There are also some other types of flies that feed on animal dung.


In this brief blog, we have answered the query,”What do insects eat?” We have explained what insects are and looked at some types of insects including frugivorous insecst and carnivorous insects. We have also discussed some other food sources for insects.


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