in·​sec·​tiv·​o·​rous ˌin-ˌsek-ˈti-v(ə-)rəs How to pronounce insectivorous (audio)
: 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 The insectivorous bats are thought to play a key role in the surrounding ecosystems, eating crop pests and controlling disease-bearing mosquitoes. Kate Evans, Scientific American, 28 Aug. 2023 Sloths are closely related to anteaters, but are much slower than their insectivorous cousins; a typical sloth takes a full minute to move only 15 feet. Darren Incorvaia, Discover Magazine, 12 Apr. 2022 But more than 40 percent of insectivorous bat species hunt by plucking prey resting on leaves or other surfaces. Rachel Berkowitz, Scientific American, 1 Dec. 2019 As the insectivorous hunters of the plant world, Venus flytraps have evolved some radical features to attract and ensnare meals. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 22 Jan. 2016 For night-flying insects, the greatest threat comes from insectivorous bats that detect and track prey with ultrasonic sonar, and so their hearing is tuned to the frequencies of the bats’ echolocating clicks. Stephanie Pain, Discover Magazine, 7 Dec. 2018 This dearth of insects translates into far fewer insectivorous birds for birders and nature photographers to chase. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 The insectivorous choruses actually synchronize their sibilant symphonies in a deafening, but gorgeous, hum. Ross Kenneth Urken, Scientific American, 14 June 2021 Day said that all the bats in Utah are insectivorous. The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 June 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'insectivorous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1661, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of insectivorous was in 1661

Dictionary Entries Near insectivorous

Cite this Entry

“Insectivorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​sec·​tiv·​o·​rous ˌin-ˌsek-ˈtiv-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce insectivorous (audio)
: feeding on insects as food

Medical Definition


in·​sec·​tiv·​o·​rous ˌin-ˌsek-ˈtiv-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce insectivorous (audio)
: depending on insects as food
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