Why Insectivorous Plants Trap Insects | Carnivorous Plants

Last Updated: 18.10.2023
Utkarsh Shukla
Written by
Utkarsh Shukla, a journalism student at IIMC, Delhi, is on a mission to share his passion for fitness and nature through gardening. With a deep family background in botany and over 200 gardening articles, he simplifies the science of plants. Utkarsh turns gardening into engaging and educational adventures, aiming to inspire a love for the natural world in his readers.

Have you wondered Why Insectivorous Plants Trap Insects? Are they not able to perform photosynthesis? Let’s have a look in detail!

Why Insectivorous Plants Trap Insects

Despite having the leaves and the ability to do photosynthesis like the other plants, there are many carnivorous specimens that catch insects for nutrition.  Let’s have a detailed look at Why Insectivorous Plants Trap Insects!

Have a look at the plants that trap insects here

What are Insectivorous Plants?

Plants that feed on insects are called insectivorous or carnivorous plants. Though both plants are almost the same, the mere difference is that insectivorous plants feed on insects only. While carnivorous plants can feast on both bugs, and invertebrates like spiders, millipedes, and earthworms.

These plants have been found on all the continents except for Antarctica. Insectivorous plants are adapted to have a unique trap mechanism, as they lure their prey using nectar-rich scents, vivid colors, and flowers. They have digestive enzymes for dissolving and absorbing the prey for nutrients.

Here are the best insect repellent plants that you can grow 

Why Insectivorous Plants Trap Insects 

Most of the plants derive nitrogen from the soil, with the help of bacteria that work as nitrogen fixators, and roots (especially legumes) are home to such nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Nitrogen plays a vital role as it aids plants in growth and stimulates lush foliage production, too.

Insectivorous plants thrive in swamp, boggy, muddy, and marshy places, where the soil is extremely infertile, nutritionless, and lacks the needed nitrogen. Though insectivorous plants perform photosynthesis, they have a shortage of essential nutrients.

To make up for the deficiency (especially nitrogen and phosphorus), they hunt on the insects. These plants have undergone a bizarre adaptation for this purpose, like modified leaves, nectar-like scent, and digestive enzymes.

Types of Traps in Insectivorous Plants

1. Pitfall Trap

The pitfall trap has modified cupped leaves that grow on the tendrils. Their lining has a coat of waxy flakes, making the inner walls so greasy that insects can fall inside and could not climb back.

The cavity of cup-like leaves consists of digestive enzymes, which break down the insect for absorption.

Examples: Nepenthes, Sarracenia

2. Snap Trap

Why Insectivorous Plants Trap Insects 2

The snap trap features the leaves with two lobes, having sensitive bristles to sense the insect movement. Once a pest triggers these bristles, the leaves snap shut, entrapping the insects inside.

Examples: Venus flytrap

3. Bladder Traps

Bladderwort is the perfect epitome of this trap. It has a vacuum-driven bladder with a small opening. The opening stays close by a hinged door. The door consists of small bristles.

If the plant senses an outset or movement of prey, the door shuts open and drags prey along with water inside the bladder.

Examples: Utricularia

4. Flypaper Traps

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The leaves have glands that emit sticky mucilage fluid that looks like nectar or water to the prey. Once they come in contact with this fluid, the insects stick. Then the leaves roll back to digest the prey in the enzymes.

Examples: Sundews, Butterwort

5. Lobster Pot Traps

The trap has Y-shaped modified leaves with tubed walls, covered with one-directional hair. Once the insect enters the tube, the bristles push it downwards.

Examples: Corkscrew

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