About Insectivorous Plants


Insectivorous plants, also called carnivorous plants, are found on every continent. There are five different ways that they catch their prey. Specifically, pitfall traps, flypaper traps, snap traps, vacuum traps and lobster pot traps help lure flies, moths and other bugs into the belly of insectivorous plants.

Pitfall Traps

The Sun Pitcher plant has a large rolled leaf that contains a pool of acidic enzymes for digestion. This, and other bacteria digests the bodies of the insects that land there. Other examples of plants that feature pitfall traps are the Bromeliad, a relative of the pineapple, Sarracenia, Heliamphora and the Monkey Cups, the larger varieties of which can eat rodents and other small mammals.

Flypaper Traps

With flypaper traps, plants excrete a sticky, mucilaginous substance that sometimes has a similar pheromone profile or scent. Insects are attracted to this substance and get trapped. The Butterwort and the Sundew are the most commonly cultivated species of insectivores that use a flypaper type trapping mechanism.

Snap Traps

The Venus Flytrap and the Water Wheel are the most widely available species of insectivores that use snap traps. Tiny hairs on the inside of the leaf sense the presence of an insect and quickly snap shut, trapping them while excreting a digestive enzyme. As the insect struggles inside the leaves, it gets crushed even further by stimulating the snapping action yet again.

Vacuum Trap

The Bladderwort plant is the only one that uses a vacuum trap. A small Bladderworth uses water and pressure to generate its own vacuum to suck in gnats and other small insects. Since it gets its energy from eating insects, it doesn't even have roots. The Bladderwort is a water plant, and thrives on microscopic insects living in the water.

Lobster Pot Trap

The Corkscrew plant has a lobster pot style trap. Insects enter, but can't get out because the path is lined with hair that directs the critters to digestion. They come near the top because it looks like food, but are quickly pulled into the plant's digestive system.

About this Author

Lisa Russell has been a freelance writer since 1998. She's been published in "Rethinking Everything Magazine," "Playdate" and "Home Educator's Family Times." She has a professional background in education, cosmetology and the restaurant industry. Russell studied early childhood education at Antelope Valley College, and is pursuing a degree in law.

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