carnivorous plants.

5:16 PM

Q: What do carnivorous plants eat?

A: It depends on where they live. Many carnivorous plants, such as Utricularia and Aldrovanda, live with their traps submerged in water. These plants capture very small prey like rotifers and daphnia, and even larger aquatic prey such as mosquito larvae and even fish fry.

Traps in the genus Genlisea can even capture protozoans, and some scientists think they are specialized specifically to do so! Meanwhile, Pinguicula and Drosera tend to catch flying insects like gnats, flies, and moths. Pitcher plants (Sarracenia, Nepenthes, Cephalotus, etc.) capture foraging insects, especially flies, moths, wasps, butterflies, beetles, and ants. Venus flytraps capture any crawling insect.

Occasionally, oh yes, occasionally vertebrates such as rats and birds have been captured. The carnivorous plants in these cases have usually been Nepenthes (the tropical pitcher plant), but these are rare surprises and do not represent normal prey (any rat or bird that could not struggle, gnaw, or peck its way out of a Nepenthes pitcher is probably sick or near death from other causes). Frogs are more commonly captured, but even this is fairly rare. Nepenthes more typically satisfies its gluttonous appetite with crawling bugs and insects. Venus flytraps have been observed with frog skeletons in their traps, so they also participate in the vertebrate buffet!

Darlingtonia Park
{outside of Florence, Oregon.}

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