Written by Ivy
Jan 11 2023
The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), the most well-known carnivorous plant, is a distinctive, delicate, and fascinating indoor plant that requires particular maintenance. Carnivorous plants need additional feeding in the form of tiny live creatures like flies, spiders, and wasps, unlike other plants.
The first and most intriguing fact about a Venus flytrap, also known as Dionaea muscipula, is that it is a carnivorous plant. You read that right. It's a meat-eater.
Its preferred method of capturing prey is distinctive. All of its "launch pad"-like leaves"have tiny hairs on them. The leaf closes like a cage around the insect when it triggers the hair, trapping it inside. There is no way out thanks to the edges' razor-sharp bristles acting as teeth.
The plant then releases digestive enzymes that gradually dissolve the insect inside, which isn't exactly a pretty process. After a few days, the trap will reopen and be ready to catch the next unsuspecting victim. The plant absorbs them.
Venus flytraps have some characteristics in common with other plants, despite their unusual appearance. Springtime sees the blooming of their lovely, delicate white flowers.
Venus flytraps consume insects, but they also have roots that can help the plant ground itself and take up nutrients. The bogs and wetlands where venus flytraps are found frequently have low nutrient levels. As a result, they consume insects as food.
The only native habitat of the Venus flytrap is a small coastal region in North and South Carolina, despite the fact that it is widely cultivated.
Most people believe that photosynthesis is the only purpose for which plant leaves are used. But as plants developed, their leaves began to perform new functions, such as support (tendrils), water storage (leaves of succulent plants), and defense (spines). One plant, however, has evolved to a completely new level: the Venus Flytrap uses just one altered leaf to attract, detect, trap, digest, and absorb insects!
The unfortunate prey begins to panic as soon as the trap closes on them. As it moves around, it bumps into the triggers that originally set off the trap as it twists, turns, and wriggles. The plant will start transforming into a real stomach once the triggers have been bumped five times. It then starts secreting digestive enzymes to break down protein and chitin after sealing the trap's edges to create an airtight pouch.
These plants mainly eat tiny insects that resemble critters because of their small size. Even though they are called flytraps, flies are not the most common prey for them.
The most common are:
In order to draw small insects into their leaves, such as ants, venus flytraps use their vivid red leaf colors and sweet nectar. Low-hanging leaves frequently touch the ground, providing the ideal ramp for nosy ants to climb.
Ants are too small and weak to pry open the trap when it closes. Additionally, they are unable to expel themselves due to the leaves' intertwined bristle hairs.
Venus flytraps enjoy eating spiders very much. The fact that spiders come in a variety of forms and sizes is the only threat here. They will not be able to be properly digested by the plant if they are too large when the trap activates and fails to close.
If your flytrap can catch them, beetles can be a tasty, well-known feast! Similar to ants, ground beetles can quickly climb leaves and be caught in a trap. But some flying beetles, like the checkered beetle or long-horned beetle, can escape being eaten because they fly above the leaves and land directly on the flowering parts of the plant.
Another well-known group of insects that can be caught by the Venus flytrap is the cricket. Due to the ease with which pet stores make them available, they are also quite popular for live-feeding indoor plants.
Flytraps don't typically eat insects like flies, honeybees, wasps, or butterflies. Because they fly, that is. They occasionally don't trigger any of the trigger hairs when they land on a leaf because they don't move. They can potentially make quick, life-saving escapes because they move extremely quickly in comparison to slower ants and beetles!
The Venus Flytrap consumes insects because the plants in the acidic, mucky soil where it lives have a hard time getting enough nitrogen. As a result, the nitrogen used by the Venus Flytrap is obtained directly from the protein of insects rather than from the soil and its roots.
Unfortunately, the plant has a very restricted range that is centered around Wilmington, North Carolina, and its wild population is declining. The Venus Flytrap is currently endangered in the wild as a result of human encroachment and poaching (yes, it exists).
The plant's fascinating biology and simplicity of home cultivation make it unlikely to become extinct, regardless of the condition of the wild population. You can purchase your very own bug-eater extraordinaire for between $10 and $15, and they are simple to find online and in many garden centers in the US.
Other insects have been known to provide plants with excellent meals, but they are typically either too large or too long to serve as a regular food source. Snails, slugs, and worms seldom get caught by accident.
Your venus flytrap will undoubtedly catch more than enough insects to support itself on its own if it is outdoors. But what if your plant is housed?
Some gardeners use dead insects as food for their indoor traps. Remember that a venus flytrap needs to sense movement in order to close over and release its enzymes, so even though you might think that this will solve your plant's problems, it actually won't.
If feeding your plant, use a toothpick or cocktail stick to "activate" the plant and mimic the struggle a bug would usually perform.
Last but not least, Venus flytraps produce their food through photosynthesis, just like all other plants. They take in and transform carbon dioxide and sunlight to create sugar and oxygen.
Venus flytraps are completely defenseless against predators, despite their natural instinct to hunt and kill bugs. The most common threats to them include rodents, like raccoons and squirrels, and house birds, all of whom are attracted to the plant's tiny, black seeds. (Read More: How to Grow Venus Flytraps from Seed)
False alarms are the only danger to the plant. The leaf will turn black, begin to decompose, and eventually die when a trap is set but the prey is too large.
The most well-known carnivorous plants are probably venus flytraps, but other plants also eat insects.
The sundew family (Droseraceae), which has 152 species of carnivorous plants, includes venus flytraps among its members. All over the world, particularly in Australia's bog regions, nutrient-poor soil supports the growth of carnivorous plants.
Like the Venus flytrap, other members of the sundew family use sticky pads to capture their prey instead of "rapid plant motion." Venus flytraps and sundew plants both eat insects as part of their diet. Insects become trapped when they land or crawl over the sticky pads. The insect is then slowly digested by the sundew plant, which curls over it before uncurling when it is finished.
Pitcher plants are another type of carnivorous plants; they got their name because some of their varieties resemble drinking pitchers. Although they are carnivorous and even consume small rodents, salamanders, and newts, these plants are not members of the sundew family. They work by luring animals into their bell- or tube-shaped leaves. It is impossible for the prey to escape because the inner walls are so smooth. The unfortunate prey is drowned and then digested in a pool of digestive fluids at the base of the concave leaf.
Venus flytraps need more pet-like care with regular insect and arachnid feedings than your houseplants do, even though you may be used to fertilizing them. When grown outdoors, a Venus flytrap will consume live insects like flies, wasps, spiders, grasshoppers, and even slugs.
Keep a close eye on your plant and note its feeding habits if you're unsure whether your Venus flytrap is consuming and digesting its prey, advises Ribbecke.
Because venus flytraps are bog plants, they naturally grow in or near wetlands and are semiaquatic. Flytraps always want to be sitting in a saucer of two to three inches of water to mimic their swamp origins, according to Ribbecke. Before putting your flytrap in the saucer, make sure it has a drainage hole in the pot it's in.
Your Venus flytrap must always have moisture; it must never become soggy or dry. Maintain proper water levels in the saucer and avoid flooding the traps. Remove the potted plant from the saucer for a couple of hours each day to avoid root rot.
While Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants grow and thrive from their specialized feedings and types of soil, fertilizing your houseplants during their growing seasons is typically a necessity.
Your Venus flytrap will benefit from good aeration and drainage with a soil mix of one part peat moss and one part perlite. Never use conventional houseplant potting soil or fertilizer, and repot your plant once a year to encourage healthy roots.
Venus flytraps are delicate-looking plants, but they are tough and can endure temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 110 for short periods of time. Additionally, Ribbecke emphasizes the value of a winter dormant season.
Because it is where they are from, Venus flytraps thrive in outdoor environments where there is an abundance of full sunlight and natural food sources. Ribbecke advises placing a grow light 6 to 10 inches above the plant, set to a 12 hour day length, to grow your flytrap indoors. (Read More: Venus Fly Trap Light Requirements - Does It Need Direct Sunlight?)
The act of feeding your Venus flytrap can be enjoyable, but there are a few things to remember to make sure you're aiding, not harming, your plant.
Often, your venus fly trap will catch enough food on its own to keep it alive. They can easily become overfed and overstimulated, despite the fact that it may sound very boring.
But if you do want to give them a headstart, and show them some kindness every couple of days, pay attention to the following:
Venus flytraps are entertaining and simple to maintain carnivorous plants, despite their peculiar appearance and reputation. Your Venus flytrap can develop into a unique and distinctive member of your plant family with consistent moisture, nutrient-poor soil, full sun, and access to the proper insects and arachnids.
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