in·​sec·​tiv·​o·​rous | \ ˌin-ˌsek-ˈtiv-rəs How to pronounce insectivorous (audio) , -ˈti-və- \

Definition of insectivorous

: feeding on insects

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A wide variety of animals could be called insectivores--most of the birds, for example, as well as the spiders. Of the amphibians, frogs and many lizards are largely insectivorous. Even some fish get much of their food from insects. The order of mammals called Insectivora contains the shrews, moles, and hedgehogs, though bats and anteaters are also insectivores. Many insects are themselves insectivores; the dragonfly, for instance, is a swift insectivorous terror that lives up to its name. But it's the insectivorous plants that tend to fascinate us; of the over 600 species, the best known are the Venus flytrap (which snaps shut on its prey), the pitcher plants (which drown insects in a tiny pool of water), and the sundews (which capture insects with their sticky surfaces).

Examples of insectivorous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web By spreading seeds, fruit bats help regenerate rainforests, and by eating insects, insectivorous bats help protect plants – including crops – from pests. Eva Botkin-kowacki, The Christian Science Monitor, "Holy misdirected anger! Bats not to blame, say scientists.," 15 Sep. 2020 Although some people may first think of the blood-drinking vampire bat, there are also insectivorous and fruit bats. Mary Grace Keller,, "Not just a ‘Halloween thing’ for Taneytown advocate, who says bats benefit environment year-round," 28 Oct. 2019 Their analysis revealed that half of the species examined were likely at least partially herbivorous, while some were probably insectivorous and others were strictly herbivores. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Prehistoric Crocodiles Preferred Plants Over Prey," 28 June 2019 Photo: Getty Images Without insects, the world’s populations of larger insectivorous species like birds, bats and freshwater fish would simply collapse. Anne Sverdrup-thygeson, WSJ, "The Bugs We Can’t Live Without," 20 June 2019 Dwarf sundew is an insectivorous plant with a unique way of catching its prey. USA TODAY, "Child rock climber, baby doll scare, real-life RoboCop: News from around our 50 states," 20 June 2019 Researchers found that the insectivorous birds declined by 53% in just 15 years, and the relative decline for six common bird species was dependent on the proportion of insects in their diet (seed- and fruit-eating birds were relatively unaffected). Anne Sverdrup-thygeson, WSJ, "The Bugs We Can’t Live Without," 20 June 2019 He and Ms Wang therefore collected from the wild six Pachyrhynchus weevils and 78 specimens of an insectivorous lizard called Swinhoe’s japalure. The Economist, "Inedible beetlesNot all warning colouration signals toxicity," 19 Dec. 2017 The lime-rich groundwater also helps to yield pitcher plants, insectivorous sundew and other plants. Washington Post, "Flowers lovers flock to Vermont bog for wild orchids," 26 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'insectivorous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of insectivorous

1661, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for insectivorous

Time Traveler

The first known use of insectivorous was in 1661

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Cite this Entry

“Insectivorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for insectivorous


in·​sec·​tiv·​o·​rous | \ ˌin-ˌsek-ˈtiv-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce insectivorous (audio) \

Medical Definition of insectivorous

: depending on insects as food

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