Definitions

insectivore

insectivore

[in-sek-tuh-vawr, -vohr]
insectivore, term broadly given to any insect-eating animal or plant. More specifically, the term refers to mammals of the order Insectivora (see Chordata), including the shrew, mole, hedgehog, tenrec, and solenodon. Insectivores are small animals, ranging from 2 to 16 in. (5-40 cm) in length; they are generally quite active, and most of them are nocturnal. They feed on a variety of small animals, particularly worms and insects. Members of this group are thought to be closely related to the earliest placental mammals. The tenrecs have certain anatomical features in common with the more primitive pouched, or marsupial, mammals. The other groups of placental mammals, including the primates, the order to which man belongs, are thought to have evolved as radiations from a primitive insectivore stock. The tree-shrews were formerly classified as insectivores, but are now usually classified as primates; they represent a transitional form between the two groups. Primitive insectivores may have been arboreal, e.g., the tree shrew, but modern forms are ground or even underground dwellers; the mole is highly specialized for subterranean life. Insectivores are found in the Old and New Worlds from subarctic regions to the tropics, but there are none in Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, or most of South America.

Any member of the mammalian order (Insectivora) that includes the hedgehogs, moles, and sometimes shrews (some of which are considered primates by some authorities), or, more generally, any animal that eats mainly insects. The mammalian insectivores are generally small, active, and nocturnal. They are found in most parts of the world except Antarctica, Australia, and South America. Most species are solitary (except during the breeding season) and short-lived.

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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.

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.

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