Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Insect food

Wasps feeding on honeydew.

Wasps feeding on honeydew.

  • Insects eat all sorts of different things.
  • Many species eat the leaves of plants, like the caterpillars of butterflies and moths.
  • Adult butterflies and bees are examples of insects that have long tubular tongues to suck up nectar from flowers.
  • Some insects, like the praying mantis, feed on other insects. They lie in wait for other insects and suddenly grab them with their spiny front legs. Sometimes the female praying mantis will even eat the male after mating with him! (Note, though, that the female of the native New Zealand species (Orthodera novaezealandiae) seldom eats the male; but it is common in the Southern African species (Miomantis caffra), which was first found here in 1978).
  • Many insects live on other animals and are called "parasites"; for example, fleas and lice, which live on mammals and birds, and either suck their blood (fleas and some lice), or feed on their skin and feathers (many lice).