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Why Do Some Plants Eat Insects?

Team StoryWeavers|June 08, 2022, 08:53 IST| 1

Meet Bob! Bob belongs to the stunningly gorgeous Venus Flytrap family. He is super friendly! Just like his other plant buddies, he likes to soak in the sun and make his own food through photosynthesis. He also likes to drink water and keep himself hydrated and active. Nothing much is unusual about Bob except one thing. Occasionally, Bob and his family love to feast on insects!

Why do some plants feed on insects?

Why do some plants feed on insects?

Yes! You read that right. In spite of being plants, Bob’s family isn’t afraid of bugs – they eat the bugs themselves! And they are not alone. Just like Bob and his family, there are several other plants that eat insects. These types of plants are called insectivorous plants. Just like rare flowers insectivorous plants are also rare in nature.

But why do insectivorous plants eat insects? Can they also eat animals of large sizes and shapes? Let’s dig deeper and find out more about them. 

What is an insectivorous plant?

Any plant that traps, eats, and consumes insects or animals is called an insectivorous plant or carnivorous plant. But why do they indulge in this strange behaviour? The reason is that although they mostly grow in humid wildernesses where there is plenty of sunlight and moisture, that amount is insufficient for these plants to survive. They need more nutrients than they can get from soil and water and hence, they capture insects for their nutrition supplements. While most of these carnivorous plants capture small insects, large carnivorous plants in tropical areas have been known to capture rats, birds, and frogs!

A carnivorous plant trapping an arthropod

A carnivorous plant trapping an arthropod


Read More: Did You Know About These Rare Flowers?


How do Plants eat Insects?

Carnivorous plants

How do carnivorous plants eat insects? | Source: Giphy

Well, are you in for a surprise? Most of these insectivorous plants attract these insects to fall into their trap. They have five different methods to attract and trap their prey.

Once the insect gets trapped, they release an enzyme that breaks down the insects into a goo that makes it easier for them to digest. The end products, particularly rich with nitrogenous compounds and salts, are then absorbed by the plants. Some varieties like pitcher plants also use bacteria to break down the meal, which helps the plant absorb more nutrients.

But does that mean they also trap those insects that help them to pollinate?

The answer is NO! These plants can distinguish whether an insect is a friend or food! They have three basic mechanisms to help them separate pollinators from prey. 

How do Carnivorous Plants identify their friendly insects?


Read More: 10 Facts About Plants That Will Blow Your Mind


Are Humans their prey too?

Most of us might find it strange to learn that there are plants that eat insects to survive. In fact, some of us might also turn this idea into a horror story. But there’s no need to worry as these carnivorous plants do not possess any harm to humans. In fact, many people also grow some of these notorious insect eaters in their backyards. 

 

After reading this article, you might look at plants a little differently, isn’t it? Do you know any such fun facts about plants and animals? Do tell us in the comments below.

Also read, Why do the worker ants carry the grubs about?. If you are a fossil lover then here is a post on fossils in India.

 

About the Author


Books are Tanaya Goswami’s first love and cheesecakes come a close second. Talking about movies, music, calligraphy, politics, and Elon Musk will get you listed under the friends’ section of her diary. Ever since moving on from her job as an English lecturer, she spends her time at BYJU’S crafting stories filled with emotion and sprinkled with sarcasm. Outside of work, she’s either learning something new (French, most recently!) or is curled up with a book and a cup of coffee. She firmly believes that discovering what you don’t know is the key to knowledge and is constantly working towards improving herself. Drop in a line at [email protected] if you liked her stories, have something nice to say, or if you have compelling ideas to share!

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Sathya.v

September 16, 2021

Wow!


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