The Venus Fly Trap is a carnivorous plant, which means that it supplements the nutrients it gets from the air and the soil by digesting insects. Venus Fly Traps, though rare due to habitat destruction, can be found primarily in the flatlands of North Carolina. Venus Fly Traps consume small insects, such as house flies, and, with proper care, can be grown indoors.
The Venus Fly Trap is a snap trap, which captures insects between hinged leaves. Other carnivorous plants employ different methods of catching food; these include pitfall, sticky, suction and lobster-pot traps.
The leaves of the Venus Fly Trap are covered in sensitive hairs known as trigger hairs because they trigger the shutting of the leaves when anything of sufficient weight touches them. The leaves then form an airtight seal around the prey, which keeps the digestive fluids that the plant uses to break down insects from leaking out.
The Venus Fly Trap is in the Caryophyllales order and is part of the Droseraceae family along with several other carnivorous plants including the Sundew, which uses a sticky trap, and the Waterwheel Plant, which is a snap trap like the Venus Fly Trap. Carnivorous plants are found in a number of different plant families and unrelated carnivorous plants utilise similar types of traps (pitfall traps and sticky traps), a phenomenon known as convergent evolution.
Venus Fly Trap plants produce flowers with very small seeds, which bloom on stalks that stick up above the plant's leaves so that pollinating insects will not be trapped by the plant. The Venus Fly Trap can also reproduce through leaf cuttings.
The Venus Fly Trap is native to the southeast United States, where it can be found in the wetlands of North Carolina and South Carolina. Because this plant does not rely solely on nutrients from the ground to survive, it can flourish in areas with very poor soil where other plants would be unable to survive. Habitat destruction, however, has left the Venus Fly Trap endangered.
How to Grow
In order to flourish a Venus Fly Trap needs a warm, humid environment. When growing Venus Fly Traps indoors, they may need to be kept in a terrarium if the local climate is colder than what would typically be found in North Carolina.
When feeding a Venus Fly Trap, insects need to move in order to trigger the closing of the plant's leaves. If the insect is not alive it will be necessary to gently squeeze the leaves together and to move the insect to simulate live prey.