|Can plants eat insects?
[ 2006-06-21 10:40 ]
At least three different plants turn the tables on insects and
eat them instead of the reverse. Each passively, but cleverly, lures its prey,
kills it with ease, digests its meal by using its plant juices, and then
prepares for its next unsuspecting victim.
The pitcher plant of Borneo
and of tropical Asia, which has a back-up lure in place should the first fail,
is the most notorious of the trio.
This plant exudes the scent of sweet nectar that most insects find appealing, and when
one approaches to investigate, it finds an equally attractive pitcher-shaped
plant with a red-hued rim and cover.
Once the insect steps over the rim to drink from the plant, it loses its footing
on the smooth interior, slides to the bottom of the abyss, and lands in a pool
of liquid, which digests the victim once it has drowned.
sundew plant, aptly named for the
sticky fluid on the upper part of each leaf that appears to the insect to be
dewdrops, packages its victim before
digesting it. Small, hair-like projections, which cover the surface of each
leaf, are responsible for the sticky fluid on each leaf that lures the insect to
the plant. Once the insect touches one of these "hairs," it is stuck, and the
other hairs on the upper side of the leaf bend inward towards the center of the
leaf, to wrap it in a neat, tight package, thus ensuring that it will stay for
dinner. The "dew," which for the insect turned out to be a don't, digests it
over the course of two days, after which the crafty hairs reopen for
The Venus's-flytrap, hailing from parts of North and of South
Carolina, is the most gripping of these predatory plants, and practices true
Southern hospitality by inviting any fly to stop by at any time. The plant waits
for visitors with its leaves spread open and, when a fly happens by and touches
one of the hairs that rim the plant's leaves, the Venus's-flytrap snaps its jaws
shut, and has lived up to its name. After the plant's juices digest the fly, its
leaves reopen, and the unassuming plant awaits its next