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!
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.
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!
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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.
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.
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.
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