Why Do Some Plants Capture Insects?
Some plants capture insects and other tiny animals and use them as food. They do not devour their prey by chewing but decompose them in a mixture of enzymes. The pitcher plant, for example, has leaves like champagne flutes, which can capture insects.
The pitcher plant attracts an insect to its large showy leaf by means of sweet-smelling nectar. The leaf has a treacherous lip which precipitates the unwary victim into a deep hollow pitcher full of a digestive “broth”, which soon decomposes its body.
Other plants, like the Venus’s fly trap, snap their leaves shut on their prey as it prowls about the trigger hairs glistening with drops of nectar. Once its jaws close on its prey, the Venus flytrap secretes enzymes that break down the insect into a goo that can be absorbed for its nutrients.
The sun-dews secrete a sticky fluid to trap their victims with sticky tentacles. Bladderworts grow in ponds and streams, where they suck in their prey like underwater vacuum cleaners.
Although most carnivorous plants eat small insects, larger carnivorous plants in tropical areas have been known to capture rats, birds, and frogs.
Carnivorous plants tend to grow in areas where the soil is very thin and lacks necessary nutrients. To survive, these plants must find other sources for the nutrients they need.
Trapping and digesting insects allows these unique plants to survive. Unfortunately, human and environmental factors continue to threaten the limited environments where you can find wild carnivorous plants.