Top 10 Facts about Venus FlyTraps

The Venus flytrap is a carnivorous plant that is found in the swamplands of North and South Carolina in the United States.

The Venus flytrap is a small plant whose structure can be described as a rosette of four to seven leaves which arise from a short subterranean stem that is actually a bulb-like object. Each stem reaches a maximum size of about three to five centimetres depending on the time of year.

Long leaves with robust traps are usually formed after flowering. Flower traps that have more than seven leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.

The Venus flytrap preys on insects with its uniquely shaped leaves. Each leaf has two main areas, firstly, a leaf base that is capable of carrying out photosynthesis and grows out of the ground. Secondly, its trapping mechanism which is called the leaf blade or lamina which is at the end of the leaf and is made up of two lobes which are hinged together by a midrib.

In the centre of each trap, there are between two and five trigger hairs on each lobe. The edge of the trap is lined with teeth which lock together when the trap shuts. The leaf base of each blade is joined together by what is called the petiole.

Most Venus flytraps will selectively feed on specific prey. Their selection is due to the available prey and the type of trap used by the organism.

With the Venus flytrap, the prey is limited to beetles, spiders, and other crawling anthropoids. In fact, their diet is 33% ants, 30% spiders, 10% beetles, and 10% grasshoppers with fewer than 5% flying insects.

The soil that they grow in is lacking in nitrogen and is very acidic. Because they don’t have an ample supply of nitrogen it is difficult for them to synthesise protein and then grow so in order to supplement their nitrogen supply, they trap and digest insects which give them what they need.

On the upper part of each side of the trap, there are anthocyanins which are little segments that appear red or purple on the surface. This colouration draws in most insects. However, the trap also secretes mucilage which is a type of protein which the insects like.

The Venus flytrap will lay waiting with its leaves open waiting for an insect to drop onto it. Once an insect has landed on the leaf, it starts to crawl around lapping up the mucilage. Eventually, it will stumble on a trigger hair and the trap will snap shut.

The first written reference to a Venus flytrap was made by Arthur Dobbs who was the British Colonial Governor of North Carolina between 1754 and 1765. In his letter to Peter Collinson, the English Collector and Botanist in 1759, Dobbs describes a Venus Fly Trap as a kind of catch fly sensitive which closes upon anything that touches it.