As bizarre as the Venus Fly Trap is (and it looks even weirder) I think it has amazing capabilities and I find it extremely interesting.

How They Work

Originating and found only in North and South Carolina, these flowering perennials have the botanical name of Dionaea masipula, they are what is known as a carnivorous plant. These plants feed and thrive off of the bodily juices of numerous insects and have the capability of the catching them and digesting then all on their own. The Venus fly trap draws out the nitrogen from the insects that they cannot find in their surroundings, which are mostly bogs. The tip of the leaf is divided into two hinged lobes to form a trap that can independently shut. They grow usually from eight to twelve inches in height and start from bulb shaped roots. This small trap has the ability to hold a very wide variety of insects, even if they are larger than the trap itself (which many of the are).

This little green trap is lined with tiny hairs that are the trigger for the mechanics of the plant. The inside of the trap is lined with crimson colored glands that draw the insects to it. When the hairs are touched twice (it has to be at least twice to prevent responses to rubbish and things like rain drops), the plant will close and fold up within a fraction of a second (if it is healthy), and once it is shut and the hairs are still being triggered (the bug is still moving), the trap will be held tighter and tighter while the digestive enzymes start to be released. By the trap releasing enzymes into the insect, it starts to dissolve the internal tissue of the bug which in turn gives the plant the food it needs. A normal digestion period of about 10 days is required to completely digest one insect. However, if the trap closes and the hairs do not continue to be triggered, the trap will reopen within a few hours and is on guard once again. Also, it is very rare that a trap (there are many to one plant, each on their own leaf) will catch even 3 insects in its lifetime.

Taking Care of These Beasts

There is no need to fertilize Venus fly traps, they use the insects fluid as an additional food supplement to what they receive from the soil. They like direct sun and the worse the soil is in nutrients, the more it will need the bugs you feed it (or that it catches). Venus fly traps are very hearty, so cold temperatures do not affect them (within limits) and prefer winter temperatures minimums of 0-50 degrees Celsius. If you are keeping one of these plants and live in a place that does not have cold winters, it is recommended that you put them in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for about six weeks during the winter season to keep these plants on a normal cycle.

If you ever get a chance to see these plants in action, hopefully you will find them as interesting as I do.

Sources:

  • http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Jungle/1124/Growingguide/venusfly.html
  • Personal Knowledge

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