10 Interesting Animals That Eat Nectar! with Pictures!

Nectar is a great source of attraction for pollinating animals, and it is a sugary treat produced by glands in the plants called nectarines or nectaries.

Animals that eat nectar:

  • Moths
  • Hummingbirds
  • Orioles
  • Flowerpeckers
  • Sunbirds
  • Wasps
  • Dragonflies
  • Chickadees
  • Goldfinches
  • Butterflies

Nectar has a part to play in the evolution of the animals that consume it. It also has economic significance as it is honey’s sugar source.

If the number of pollinators visiting the flower increases, the nectar secretion also increases. Here are several animals that feed on nectar.

Table of Contents

Here are 10 animals that eat nectar:

1. Moths

moth on flower 27122021

They are an insect group that’s paraphyletic and consists of every member of the Lepidoptera order, excluding butterflies. With butterflies, they vastly make up most of the order.

It’s considered that they have roughly 160,000 species and a lot of which are not described yet. Additionally, moths are mostly nocturnal, albeit there are also diurnal and crepuscular species.

Moth larvae make cocoons, and after a certain period, an adult moth comes out with wings.

Large moths like Atlas, Promethea, and Polyphemus don’t have parts of the mouth.

Excluding some exceptions, most adult moths feed on liquids only to maintain their energy stores and water balance; they usually eat flower nectar.

Although in the absence of flowers, they may start relying on fruits for their nutrition.

2. Hummingbirds

hummingbird eating flower 27122021

Hummingbirds are indigenous to America. They are mostly present in the tropics, though they have roughly 360 species that stretch till Tierra del Fuego from Alaska.

These little birds are 7.5-13 cm long and the smallest species are about 5cm long, whereas the largest ones are 23 cm in length.

Around 42 million years earlier, they were separated from their closest relatives, treeswifts and swifts.

They create a humming sound by the beating wings that they flap at frequencies high enough for humans to hear, and that’s why they are referred to as hummingbirds.

All species eat spiders or flying insects; they even materially use spiderwebs in their nest and are also specialized to feed on flower nectar.

Their needle-like long beaks are ideal for reaching into the flowers to draw out the nectar.

3. Orioles

oriole eating flower 27122021

The Old World orioles are a passerine birds’ Old World family, whereas the New World orioles come under the Icterus genus, unrelated to the old world ones.

They have an extremely similar diet, behavior, and size and they mainly differ in plumage. 

Orioles molt every year, and they have pointed bills with long tails. The species that nest in cold winter areas are highly migratory.

They can include insects, wasps, mealworms, berries, peanuts, bread, fruits like peaches, oranges, and bananas in their diet.

Additionally, they also enjoy having nectar, but they feed on insects for the majority of the instances.

4. Flowerpeckers

flowerpecker on tree branch 27122021

Flowerpeckers are short-necked and short-legged stout birds. They are of the passerine birds’ family named Dicaeidae, consisting of 2 genera with 48 species, namely Dicaeum and Prionochilus.

The length of the pygmy flowerpecker varies around 10 cm, and weight can range around 5.7 grams, whereas the mottled flowerpecker can stand 10 cm tall and weigh roughly 12 grams.

Human activities don’t threaten most of them. However, the IUCN considers that 5 of their species can be nearly threatened; the Cebu flowerpecker is critically endangered.

Nectar contributes to a good part of their diet, though they may also feed on berries, insects, and spiders.

5. Sunbirds

sunbird eating flower 27122021

Sunbirds with spiderhunters form the passerine birds’ family, Nectariniidae. They are the old world’s slender and small passerines and generally have downward-curved bills.

Specifically, the males with their iridescent feathers are colored brightly. They cover Southeast Asia, Southern China, Southeast Asia, and most of Africa to the Middle East.

The black-bellied sunbird weighs around 5 grams, whereas the spectacled spiderhunter weighs about 45 grams; their sexual dimorphism is strong such as hummingbirds.

These diurnal birds are typically found in pairs and small families a few times. Only some of its species periodically join in large groups.

A notable amount of its species have the flowers’ nectar in their diet, although like most birds, they too feed on spiders and insects. 

6. Wasps

wasp on flower 27122021

Wasps belong to the Apocrita suborder of the Hymenoptera. The most popular wasps like the hornets and yellowjackets are eusocial.

Most of its species are solitary, with each full-grown female breeding and living independently. They play numerous ecological roles.

Some of them are pollinators or predators, either to prepare their nest or survive by feeding themself. The cuckoo wasps lay their eggs in other wasp’s nests.

Unlike birds that feed on spiders and insects, the full-grown wasps only use sugar for the nutrition they obtain from the honeydew that the aphids produce along with the nectar from flowers.

7. Dragonflies

dragonfly on flower 27122021

Dragonfly belongs to the Odonata Order and when this flying insect becomes an adult, it’s differentiated by its large pair of compound eyes that are multi-faced along with two pairs of transparent and strong wings.

The compound eyes of a full-grown dragonfly have approximately 24,000 optical units, respectively.

These predatory insects are mostly tropical, although it’s possible that you will come across a few in temperate regions. Depletion in wetlands across the world poses a threat to their populations.

They usually eat any insects they can catch and their general diet consists of midges and mosquitoes, but they may also eat moths, butterflies, bees, and other dragonflies. They also feed a lot on nectar.

8. Chickadees

chickadee looking at flower 27122021

Chickadees belong to the family in the Poecile genus; only the species spotted in North America are known as chickadees.

They are small in size and can stand around 6-14 cm tall. Their calls can make up an unusual ‘chick-a-dee-dee-dee’ sound, and that’s the inspiration behind its name.

Although their usual call is ‘fee-bee,’ whereas this one is alarming, the number of ‘dees’ signifies the predators.

These omnivores eat seeds, invertebrates, berries, and insects. They also like having peanut butter and suet if offered. They are also regularly spotted at nectar feeders.

9. Goldfinches

goldfinch eating flower 27122021

The American goldfinches are small birds that belong to the family finch. They are migratory in nature and range to North Carolina from mid-Alberta for the breeding season.

Sexual dichromatism is only displayed by the American goldfinch that undergoes a complete molt.

The males display luminously colored plumage to attract a female for the breeding season. I

Goldfinches are granivores that are usually seen consuming the seedheads of thistles and dandelions.

They are also known for eating garden vegetation, also, they specifically have an affection for beet greens.

Moreover, goldfinches have been seen visiting nectar feeders regularly.

10. Butterflies

butterfly on flower 27122021

Butterflies belong to the same order of moths but come under macrolepidoptera clade Rhopalocera.

Full-grown ones have large and mostly luminously colored wings and clear fluttering flight.

A full-grown butterfly undergoes complete metamorphosis just like the majority of the insects, and they have a 4-stage life cycle.

The four scale-covered wings are the full-grown ones’ main trait. The scales are the reason behind their colorful wings.

They can only survive on a liquid diet, and with the help of their proboscis, they drink nectar from the flowers that serve as a sugary treat.

Conclusion

The animals that eat nectar are moths, hummingbirds, orioles, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, wasps, dragonflies, chickadees, goldfinches, and butterflies. Additionally, nectar is palatable for these animals and is an excellent energy source that not only contains protein but other essential nutrients as well.

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