Carnivorous plants have been populating children’s cartoons(you’ve been secretly watching) since forever. Knowing a catchy fact or two about them can be an easy ice breaker in awkward situations. But is there more valuable information about them? Do they eat human babies? Do they hunt in prides? Do they poop? Truth is carnivorous plants mostly feed on insects, be it crawling, foraging or flying. I said mostly because some plants have been reported to capture rats, frogs, a bird here and there(although these animals were most likely already dying or sick). This being said there’s no danger for you whatsoever. Not because you are at home, reading this, but in general for humans.
Carnivorous plants facts:
Carnivorous plants, being the tough beasts that they are, tend to grow on a nutrient-low ground such as bogs or rocky areas and are considered exotic. Therefore they have to get their nutrients from their pray – the tiny innocent cute nutrient rich insects(as cute as insects get). Over 600 species of these plants have been spotted but when someone says “carnivorous plant” you probably picture The Venus-flytrap.
A list of their vicious hunting mechanisms:
As we all know plants are not fast-runners. Nor can they reach and grab their pray. So what do they do? Easy. Typical for their passive aggressive lifestyle they just attract pray. This includes:
Pitfall traps – the nothing suspecting insects falls into a leaf filled with digestive enzymes. Yeah, literally falling in its stomach.
Snap traps – That is what the Venus’s-flytrap does. It snaps shut its “mouth” and traps food inside. No touching, kids!
Flypaper traps – As you can figure it out yourself that’s where the plant has a sticky glue substance so insects can’t escape. So hospitable!
Bladder traps – There is no place safe from this nightmare. Guess what – some plants use the so called bladder to suck bypassing aquatic creatures underwater!
Lobster-pot traps – This creatively named technique is where the plant uses inward-pointing hairs to “navigate” its pray towards the digestive enzymes. Sounds cool. And gross.
A star amongst predators
The Venus-flytrap is not the only moving plant from the carnivorous but rather the most famous one. Contrary to the popular belief it doesn’t have muscles. Nor does it lift. When the sensitive hairs register contact with the pray they trigger water transfer from the inside to the outside cells of the plant, which makes the inside go limp. And that’s how the snap occurs. These plants definitely like to have a closure with their pray. How sappy.
Some have even developed hunting techniques. The pitcher plant for example Is a very sly little thingie. Its insides, where the fooled bugs fall trapped, is usually very slippery when wet. But the plant turns off the wetness for a couple of hours during the day. “B-but why?”. Because that’s part of its malicious plan, that’s why! So you know ants, right? They usually send some scout-ants to scan the area for goods. When the ant has the information needed, it goes back and tells the other ants where the treasure is and only then do they send more ants to collect it. So the evil pitcher plant stays dry the whole day, playing it cool and welcome and all. Scout ant goes there, finds the sweet nectar that the upper leaf of the plant has produced, thinks to itself “that’s it, I will finally get the respect of the queen” and rushes back to share the good news. Soon after the plant turns on its “slipperiness” and when the collectors come they are trapped inside!
Inside information about carnivorous plants
So what happens inside those cruel monsters’ stomachs? Most of the plants create their own digestive enzymes, some rely on bacteria to produce it. Some use both. Ugly truth is some plants even use the help of other insects to digest. The carnivorous Sundew for example lets assassin bugs crawl inside it and eat whatever insects have been trapped. Then they poop(duh) and the plant uses the faeces to absorb the nutrients. Sorry about your dinner.