What Do Insects Eat?

close up of roach eating food left out

Whether you’re an entomology hobbyist, just curious, or you’ve got a particular bug that’s an unwelcome house guest and refuses to leave—you might have this question: What do insects eat?

Since there are so many types of insects, there are multiple types of insect diets. Some species of insects have very specific food preferences, while others aren’t so picky—just like people! Learn more about all kinds of bugs and their favorite foods!

What Do Insects Eat?

There are multiple types of insect diets, and most fall into these three basic categories which define the nutritional habits of most creatures in the animal kingdom:


These guys are like the insect equivalent of human vegans, because they only eat plants or the products of plants. This means herbivorous insects tend to eat plant nectar, leaves, flowers, and wood. 

One example of herbivorous insects we’re well-familiar with are termites, which eat wood from trees (or anything made of wood, including walls, furniture, structural beams, and flooring).

Plant-munching insects also play an essential role in the food chain as the prey of “insectivores,” a type of carnivore; one familiar example of these insect-only predators is bats.


That’s right: Bigger animals, like tigers or vultures, aren’t the only animals that eat a diet primarily made of other animals! Carnivorous insects either eat other animals—which usually involves attacking, killing, and eating another insect—or animal-derived products like blood, sweat, and dead skin. 

One example of carnivorous insects is spiders (although, they’re technically arachnids). All spider species are considered carnivores, but some spider species exclusively kill and eat the flies or other smaller insects they catch in their webs. Other species of spiders kill and eat other spiders, like the black widow: The female kills and eats her male partner immediately after mating.  


Like most humans and animals, some insects are omnivores, meaning their diet is made up of plants, animals, and the materials derived from them. A great example of an omnivorous insect is ants, which eat sweet nectar, other insects, plants, and pretty much anything organic with a noticeable smell.

Specialized Diets

Within the three categories we mentioned previously, some insects have specialized diets, including the following types:

  • Detritivores: This insect diet consists of deceased animals or rotting plants. One example of detritivores is the cockroach. Although cockroaches will eat just about any plant or animal-derived material, their favorite foods include decaying organic matter like dead insects and rotting fruit. Detrivores can fall into any of the main three categories, depending on what types of decomposers they are.
  • Nectar and Pollen Enthusiasts: Pollinating insects like bees, butterflies, and some mosquitoes will primarily or exclusively consume nectar, pollen, or a material derived from them, such as honey.
  • Blood Suckers: Some insects’ favorite food is the blood of other animals, the most notorious being mosquitoes. Since blood comes from animals, this specialized diet is considered carnivorous.

Your Trusted Solution for All Pests, No Matter Their Diet

We hope you enjoyed learning about the diets of insects! While you can apply your newfound knowledge of insect diets to create bait for DIY pest traps, allowing a professional to take care of a pest infestation in your home or on your property is much safer and more effective.

If any pest is interfering with your comfort and safety, call our team of experts at Vulcan Termite and Pest Control. We can safely eliminate pests and implement short- and long-term prevention solutions. Our team has proudly served families in Alabama since 1965, and we would love to help you, too! Call us at 205-663-4200 or contact us online to learn more about our affordable, highly effective pest control solutions.