what animals eat flowers

What Animals Eat Flowers?

Written by: Akeem Eletu

Flowers are an essential source of food for a wide range of animals. 

While most of these creatures depend on flowers to thrive, their eating methods have landed them on the gardener’s “no-no” list and branded them as pests. But not all of them are pests. Many serve beneficial purposes for flowers, other insects, and even humans. 

What Animals Eat Flowers

Animals are attracted to many flower parts. Some eat the whole flowers while others eat only the leafy parts.

BEARDED DRAGONS

Bearded dragons are omnivores, and flowers form a great part of their diet. Ideally, plants and flowers should make up about 70% of an adult bearded dragon’s diet.

Although beardies eat insects and insect larvae, flowers, succulent plants, and fruits make up a great portion of their diet in the wild. They are native to tropical savannas and woodlands, so they naturally eat flowers when other food sources are scarce.

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TORTOISES AND TURTLES

Tortoises and turtles are flower-eating animals. Unlike animals on the gardener’s blacklist, these two are very well-behaved. They don’t ruin or consume meticulously groomed flowers. 

These flower-eating animals are not classified as pests. This is because the tortoise and turtle eat flowers cultivated for them. They are either pets or wild creatures. Even though the tortoise is a flower-eating animal, many flowers are poisonous and should not be fed to them.

Hibiscus, high in fiber, and dandelions are commonly eaten by tortoises and turtles. However, daffodil, mistletoe, and tomato leaves are poisonous and should never be fed to tortoises or turtles.

DEER

Deer eat flowers. Gardeners in regions with deer experience them wrecking damage on their flower beds, especially when other food sources are scarce. 

Unlike many other selective flower-eaters that can choose which part of the flower to eat, deer eat the entire flower. They will take up the plant and consume the buds, the bulbs, the flowery parts, leaves, and even the green stems.

INSECTS

The most popular flower eaters are insects.  Flower-eating insects are primarily drawn to flowers for the nectar; the petals are reserved for later. 

The majority of these insects that eat petals in addition to pollinating are considered pests. Gardeners take extra precautions to prevent them from eating their flowers. Here is a list of insects that eat flowers.

  • APHID

Aphids are active plant-eaters, and flowers are no exception. They can damage your flowering plants if left unchecked. Aphids feed on virtually every part of the plant, and they prefer plants while they are still young. Their goal is to sap the nutrients out of the plants. 

They are largely herbivores, and they suck out the juice from flowers. They pierce the flowers with their sucking mouthparts, and they suck out the juices from the flowery plants. 

Aphids are considered pests and are notorious for damaging crops.

  • CATERPILLAR 

Caterpillars top the list of animals that eat flowers. They are the larvae of butterflies of some species and moths. Caterpillars are often laid on the leafy parts of flowers and many other plants as eggs by the adult molt or butterflies. When they hatch, they are often hungry and need food for energy. The leafy part of the flowers automatically becomes food for the caterpillars.

They eat the flower parts, especially the leafy parts until they reach the pupa state. They damage plants, whether in their flowering stage or not.

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BIRDS

Birds are well-known flower eaters. Most birds consume one flower component over another. Some birds with lengthened beaks go for nectar over petals, while others are content and comfortable with only petals. 

Birds are potential pollinators, but gardeners consider them damaging and do everything to keep them away from their flowers. Coneflower, cornflower, marigolds, and black-eyed Susan are all edible flowers for birds. If you plant these flowers in your garden, you can expect to have birds visiting more often.

BATS

Surprisingly, bats belong to the flower-eating category. They have sharp snouts, long and extendable tongues, and sometimes brush-like tips for scooping up sticky nectar and pollen mixtures. 

Bats are also almost toothless. Although their eyesight is excellent, they detect flowers through smell because they feed at night. 

Bats typically use their thumb claws to hook themselves into the petals and their narrow heads to absorb viscid nectar and protein-rich pollen with their tongues. 

Do Flower Eaters Offer Any Benefits at All?

While gardeners would love to label animals who eat flowers as pests, animals benefit from flowers in many vital ways.

Some plants self-pollinate and distribute their genetic material through the wind, but most plants depend on animals like insects or birds to do it for them. 

Since most flowering plants are rooted in one spot, they must invent creative ways to transport pollen. To do so, flowering plants produce rich nectar to attract animals like insects or birds. 

Final Thoughts

Flowers are an excellent food source for animals. Besides traditional pollinators and insects, other animals like to feast on flowers. Flowers that bloom in the spring are part of the diet of some of the flower-eating animals as only a few different foods are available. 

Humans also belong to the flower-eating community. They eat flowers such as dandelions, roses, and violas.

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