web analytics

How does the Venus flytrap catch its prey?

venus fly trapVenus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are the most popular carnivorous plant. Because of their bizarre appearance and carnivorous nature, they are highly cultivated as a novelty plant.

What's remarkable about these plants are the traps which are located at the tip of the leaves. They are made up of a pair of terminal lobes hinged at the midrib. The top of the lobes contain red anthocyanin pigments and three hair-like trichomes per lobe. The edges of the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions, that form some sort of grill, preventing the prey from escaping when the lobes snap shut.

For a prey (insects and small animals) to get captured in the trap, it has to come in contact with two trigger hairs in succession or touch one hair twice, before the lobes to shut in less than 0.1 seconds! This natural mechanism ensures that the plant does not waste energy in trapping a fallen leaf or get activated by a raindrop.

When the plant senses that the trapped prey is trying to escape, the plant tightens and increases its pace of digestion. The Venus flytrap usually finishes its carnivorous meal in about 10 days and the traps reopens. When a small prey manages to escape, the trap will reopen within 12 hours. It is a rare occurrence for a trap to catch and digest more than 3 preys in its lifetime.

Leave a reply