Lifestyle

Plants with big appetite help rid garden of insects

Venus Fly Traps are easy to grow, needing a minimum of four hours direct sunlight each day.
Venus Fly Traps are easy to grow, needing a minimum of four hours direct sunlight each day.

THERE are some really weird plants in the world, but perhaps the weirdest of all are the carnivorous plants.

No, they don't eat small children or the neighbour's dog. They mostly eat insects, but some of the larger ones have been known to consume frogs and small birds and mammals.

These plants evolved in areas where conditions are very harsh, and the plants struggle to get sufficient nutrients from the soil.

So they have developed ingenious methods of getting the nutrients they need by digesting animals.

There are many different types, and they occur throughout the world, except in Antarctica.

Perhaps the most well-known and easily grown of all the carnivorous plants is the Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea musipula).

Occurring naturally as a ground cover in open forest areas of Carolina in the United States, the Venus Fly Trap is a truly wonderful thing.

It produces a short fleshy leaf with a modified tip that forms two sides of the trap.

Each side of the trap contains tiny hairs which, when touched a couple of times, cause the two sides to spring shut, thus trapping the insect inside.

Kids of all ages love to watch the leaves snap shut on some poor wriggling fly.

The digestive process begins as the hairs sense the wriggling insect once the trap is shut

The plant releases a series of enzymes which slowly dissolve the internal juices of the insect and convert them to food.

Venus Fly Traps are easy to grow, needing a minimum of four hours direct sunlight each day.

They must be kept moist at all times, which is best achieved by sitting them in a tray of water.

Pitcher plants, or Sarracenias, are another fabulous easy-to-grow bug-eating plant. These have a different, but equally successful, bug catching technique.

Unlike the Venus Fly Trap, whose leaves snap shut on the hapless insect, the pitcher plants are sneaky, using sweet nectar in the mouth of the pitcher to lure the insect into the trap.

Once the insect enters the tube it has no chance of escape - the inside of the tube is slippery and may have downward pointing hairs, leaving the poor insect at the mercy of the super-efficient digestive enzymes.

Sarracenias love a wet, sunny position. Keep the pot sitting in a tray of water, or grow them in a pond, but don't fully submerge the pot.

The leaves of the Sarracenias are beautiful; some are short and plump, others are tall and majestic.

They are available in a range of colours, including green, white, pink and red, and the patterns can be exquisite.

Tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes) are climbing Australasian plants.

Plant colouration, scent and nectar both on the plant and around the rim and hood of the pitcher attract a wide range of insects to the pitchers.

Thanks to a waxy internal surface and an inward facing, slippery rim, insects fall into the pitchers and can't escape.

There are many different varieties of Nepenthes. The largest plants can grow several metres high and produce pitchers over 60cm long.

Nepenthes need a humid, semi-shaded position, with protection from the afternoon sun.

Drosera catch insects in a sticky nectar secreted at the end of very fine tentacles on the branching leaves.

The nectar is so abundant that it gives the plant the appearance of being covered in dew, hence the common name of Sundew.

If you're interested in carnivorous plants, then take a look at the FAQ section of http://www.sarracenia.com, from the International Carnivorous Plant Society.

It contains some great information, including a detailed description of an experiment performed by the author to determine whether Venus Fly Traps can digest human flesh.

 

>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  flowers gardening insects lifestyle plants



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

$1.5 billion Ripley development on track for new year

Construction of Ripley Town Centre stage one is set to begin next year.

Town Centre 80% sold to Coles, speciality stores

Woollies heart attack: Doctors used a defibrillator 40 times

LIFE SAVERS: Ed Stubbs (centre) had a heart attack at the Inala Woolworths store and was helped by quick think store manager Marc Roper (right) and customer David Duprat (left) who administered CPR.

VIDEO: Survivor says thanks to the heroes who saved his life.

REVEALED: Shopping centre announces new dining options

Redbank Plaza announces the new food and drink options opening in store.

SUSHI, health food and vegan donuts just some of the food on offer.

Local Partners

FLOOD RISK: Mayors launch plan to protect $260M industry

A COMPREHENSIVE plan to deal with the flood risk to rivers and lakes in the Lockyer Valley has been launched.


Top 5 Christmas events around Ipswich

The Twighlight Christmas Parade was just the first of many events around the region.

THERE are plenty of exciting Christmas activities coming up.

It's official, Christmas has started in Ipswich

TIS THE SEASON: Plenty of families got into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Twilight Parade.

PHOTOS: Annual Twilight Parade draws hundreds, more events to come

What's on this weekend

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

Things to do in Ipswich

Hacksaw Ridge wins big in first round of AACTA Awards

Luke Bracey and Andrew Garfield in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

THE major awards will be handed out on Wednesday night.

Paris Hilton fumes at clumsy partygoers

A reveller spilt their drink on Paris Hilton's DJ decks

Winnie Harlow isn't a role model

Winnie Harlow insists she isn't a role model.

Felicity Jones proud of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story role

Felicity Jones feels it is "important" for a woman to head Rogue One

Kiwi's plea to Ellen DeGeneres to save bakery after quake

Ellen... we need your magic.

Family had to be helicoptered out after powerful quake

Seacrest: Things are "going better" for Kim and Kanye

Ryan Seacrest says things are "going better now" for Kanye West

Couple's desperate $550K price drop to sell Gladstone home

Brian Headley and Kirstene Staib are selling their Kin Kora mansion for $750,000.

TELL tale sign of Gladstone's property market.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Prices jump in trio of mining towns

THE boost in coal prices in the past six months has triggered a house price jump in at least three mining towns in Central Queensland.

Boost in coal prices triggers a market turnaround

INSIDE STORY: Disused pipeline stops hundreds from building

TRAIL OF TEARS: Route of the disused Santos oil pipeline which is stopping hundreds of Ipswich residents from building.

Santos responds but Tully says easements issue must be addressed

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!