8 Carnivorous Plants That Eat Little Animals Alive

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Carnivorous Plants

The name carnivorous plants already suggests you the idea of the whole thing, yes they eat other living things. The menu of the carnivorous plants consists of insects, small aquatic prey like mosquito larvae and tiny fish, snails, and more. Some tropical carnivorous plants even step up their games and dine frogs, rats, and birds.

There are about 700 species of carnivorous plants, and they tend to grow in places where the soil is thin. Eight carnivorous plants will be introduced in the list below, so feel free to check them out and let us know your thoughts. There are 5 trapping mechanisms that all carnivorous plants use to trap their prey including:

  • Pitfall Traps: trap pray in a rolled leaf that contains a pool of digestive enzymes or bacteria.
  • Flypaper Traps: use a sticky mucilage
  • Snap Traps: utilize rapid leaf movements
  • Bladder Traps: suck in prey with a bladder that generates an internal vacuum
  • Lobster Traps aka Eel Traps: force prey to move towards a digestive organ with inward-pointing hairs.

1Australian Sundew

This looks so satisfying, doesn’t it? That is also what the thirsty bugs think every time they see this carnivorous plant as well. What appears to be like water droplets that we all see is actually a glue-like substance to trap insects. Basically, everything you see in these carnivorous plants is all trap. Small but ruthless, this is one of the most cruel killers in the world of plants. Once the insects are in contact, the sticky mucilage entraps the prey and prevents its progress of escaping.

2Bladderworts

image: Britannica Kids

Bladderworts are the aquatic type of carnivorous plants that you can find in streams, lakes, and flooded areas. The plant actively pumps water out of the bladders and creates vacuum inside each trap. More than that, it has flexible doors that are equipped with bristles on the surface. So when small insects get in touch with the bristles, the trap automatically opens and ingests water with prey.

3Butterwort

image: World of Succulents

Butterwort aka Sticky Leaf, is a carnivorous plant with brightly colored flowers and sticky leaves. Those leaves have tiny hair like structures on the surface and have mucus like secretions, to trap insects. This plant is also known for their showy and orchid-like flowers that come in different colors like yellow, pink, purple, or white.

The insects on the menu are spiders, slugs, flies, caterpillars, and crickets. The way they kill is short and precise. Those gluey hairs snag insects, then the plant’s digestive juices will do the job. So the insects get lured to the bright colors and land on the leaves in which they get trapped. The leaf then closes completely before the juices secreted in the leaves do entirely digest the insects.

4Cobra Lily

image: Carnivorous Plant Resource

The name is so obvious, the appearance of the plant shows exactly why the name is like that. The curled leaves of the plant rise up like a snake ready to strike while the forked tongue completes everything. Just like most carnivorous plants, once the insects get into this one, it is not easy to get out. There is one tiny well-hidden exit that all bugs can never find.

On top of that, the leaves that form the trap also have numerous translucent patches that act as false exits. That makes the bugs get confused, they think they’re escaping but they’re actually flying deeper inside. Once they are exhausted, they simply succumb and fall into the liquid and become lunch for the plant.

5Monkey Cup

The trap of a monkey cup contains a fluid of its own production that may be watery or syrupy. The plant uses the liquid to drown prey, and that liquid also attracts monkey to drink it from time to time as well. That is how it gets its name because monkeys have been seen drinking water from them in rainforests. The cool part is that monkey cup sometimes is big enough to hold more than a liter of water. That is why parched humans looking for refreshment also drink water from their cup in the tropical heat.

6Pitcher Plant

image: San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants

This carnivorous plant grows in boggy meadow in northern California, and it is good at trapping, killing, and deriving nutrients. Also known as insectivorous plants, you can easily tell that they are the pitcher by the colorful cupped leaf. The leaf has the job of luring insects like butterflies, grasshopper, and cricket into their death. The inside of this colorful plant is filled with enzymatic fluid for drowning and digesting insects.

Those are not the only features, the side of the plants are slippery along with line of deflexed bristles. So if the insects in, it will be very difficult for them to climb up and escape from the trap. That is why it is a very rare case for an insect who could escape and live to tell the tale. There are times when the plants got lucky there are little frogs hopped in. All that is left of the unfortunate frogs are their slippers, the feet part that the plants doesn’t digest.

7Venus Flytrap

image: New Scientist

This is probably the very famous carnivorous plants that many of us have seen on the Internet. This one eats mostly insects and arachnids, and it takes as long as 10 days for the plant to completely digest. In case you wonder, Venus Flytrap cannot digest exoskeletons which is why they spits out the bones when the trap reopens.

Also, that trap has a limited number of lives. After each capture, the trap of the plant remains closed for roughly a week and a half. Inside the trap, there are tiny hairs that signal the trap to close when they are brushed twice by a bug. There are bristles on the edges of the leaves that work like jail bars to prevent the insect from making an escape.

Fun Fact: Venus Flytrap cannot eat the same types of meat a human can. If you feed it a fast food burger, the plant will turn black, rot, and die.

8Yellow Pitcher Plant

image: Eden Project

This is the meat eater from the nutrient-deficient bogs of North America that has modified leaves. Those leaves form trumpets to trap flying insects then slowly devour them after. Just like most pitchers, this one also contains sugars that play an important role in luring the insects in. The interesting part is that the sugars are laced with an alkaloid that intoxicates the prey, making it difficult for them to escape. Once the bugs fly in, they don’t fly out.

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