22 Fun Facts About Venus Fly Traps | Tricky Trappers

venus fly trap, nature, plant, fun facts about venus fly traps

22 Fun Facts About Venus Fly Traps | Tricky Trappers

  1. Venus Flytraps can digest human flesh.
  2. Venus Flytrap can count.
  3. Venus Flytrap requires bright, direct sunlight for at least several hours a day.
  4. The trap’s snap-shut mechanism involves elasticity, turgor, and growth interaction.
  5. Venus Fly Traps do not require regular feeding.
  6. Venus Fly Traps thrive in nutrient-poor bogs and wet savannahs.
  7. Venus Fly Traps are perennial plants, which means they bloom year after year.
  8. Venus Flytraps close traps quickly by altering cell pH, showing memory.
  1. Venus Fly Traps grow to around 5 inches in diameter.
  2. Venus Fly Traps are susceptible to pests like spider mites and aphids.
  3. The plant has a lifespan of up to 20 years in the wild.
  4. Each plant usually has about six stems with hinged leaves.
  5. The Venus Fly Trap exhibits variations in petiole shape and length.
  6. Venus Fly Trap species produces small, shiny black seeds.
  7. Venus Fly Traps are native to North Carolina and South Carolina.
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1. The plant’s common name refers to Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

The common name of the Venus Fly Trap plant, originally called ‘Venus’s fly trap,’ is derived from Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Its genus name Dionaea, meaning ‘daughter of Dione,’ references the Greek goddess Aphrodite. 

The species name, muscipula, translates to ‘mousetrap’ or ‘flytrap’ in Latin. Historically, the plant was humorously termed ‘tipitiwitchet’ or ‘tippity twitchet,’ hinting at its unique appearance to female genitalia.

2. The trap is triggered by tiny hairs on the inner surfaces of the lobes.

The Venus Fly Trap’s unique trap consists of two hinged lobes at the end of each leaf. These lobes snap shut when tiny hair-like projections called trichomes on their inner surfaces are touched by prey. 

This rapid movement, known as thigmonasty, is a touch response. The trap mechanism activates when the prey touches one of the three trichomes on each lobe’s upper surface.

3. The trap’s closing speed varies with humidity, light, and plant health.

The closing speed of a Venus Fly Trap’s trap varies based on humidity, light, prey size, and overall growing conditions. Movement of prey inside the trap speeds up the tightening and digestion process. 

The trap’s closing, typically taking 0.3 seconds, indicates the plant’s health. This rapid closure involves mechanisms like turgor loss in the upper epidermis or acid-induced changes in motor cells.

4. The lobes’ upper surface has red anthocyanin pigments and secretes mucilage.

venus flytrap, fun facts about venus fly traps
Trap’s lobes have red anthocyanin pigments and edges.

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The Venus Fly Trap’s lobes have an upper surface rich in red anthocyanin pigments and edges that secrete mucilage. These lobes can snap shut rapidly when prey stimulates them. 

The trap is activated when the prey touches one of the three hair-like trichomes on each lobe’s upper surface, triggering the plant’s unique trapping mechanism.

5. Scientists have invented Robotic Fly Traps.

Scientists from South Korea and Maine, USA, have developed robotic Venus Tly Traps that can trap and digest insects to generate electricity for self-powering. These prototypes use smart materials to quickly capture their prey. 

Additionally, this technology is being explored to create robots that can aid in plant pollination. These robots, like the plant, can sense nearby insects, trapping and ‘eating’ them for energy.

6. Venus Fly Traps don’t waste energy on false alarms.

Venus Fly Traps efficiently conserve energy by avoiding false alarms. Their traps, equipped with hair-like sensors, only close if two hairs are touched sequentially within seconds of each other. 

This mechanism ensures the plant doesn’t unnecessarily expend energy closing for non-prey items like debris or raindrops. By waiting for a second signal, the flytrap ensures it only reacts to actual prey, preserving its energy.

7. Venus Fly Traps emit a fluorescent blue glow to attract insects.

The Venus Fly Trap enhances its prey attraction by emitting a fluorescent blue glow, especially effective during less bright parts of the day. This blue light, coupled with the nectar, significantly increases its chances of capturing insects. 

The plant typically emits this glow under stress, such as when an insect bites its leaves during the digestion process, making it more alluring to potential prey.

8. Occasionally, Venus Fly Traps can trap and digest small frogs.

Venus fly traps catching small frogs.

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The Venus Fly Trap, primarily hunting small insects, can occasionally catch larger prey, including tiny frogs or lizards. Its hunting mechanism is sophisticated enough to trap these small amphibians, with mature traps large enough to accommodate them. 

While the plant can digest softer parts of such complex organisms, it leaves behind harder structures like skeletons, indicating the limits of its digestive capabilities.

9. Venus Fly Traps require a period of dormancy during the winter.

Venus Fly Traps need a 3-5 month dormancy period in winter, triggered by cold temperatures below 50°F (10°C) and shorter daylight. During this time, they stop growing, drop leaves, and appear dormant, but are not dead. 

The plants can withstand frost and light freezes. This dormant phase is essential for their long-term survival and should be facilitated by reduced watering and cooler conditions.

10. Harvesting wild Venus Fly Traps without a permit is illegal.

The Venus Fly Trap is a protected species, illegal to remove from the wild without permits due to its limited habitat and poaching threats. Classified as ‘Special Concern,’ it requires regulatory protection. 

Since 1956, U.S. state legislation has protected it, with permits issued for collection from private land. Despite this, poaching persists, with plants often sold illegally on the black market.

11. The Venus Fly Trap seeds can grow up to 1/2 inch in length.

Venus Fly Trap seeds are small, oval-shaped, and grow up to 1/2 inch in length. Dispersed by wind or water, these seeds germinate in four to eight weeks. Each flower produces seed pods with up to 400 seeds. 

It takes about three years for the plant to produce sufficient seeds for one adult flytrap, and three to five years for a seedling to mature and start trapping prey.

12. Venus Fly Trap has a 6-inch long flower on top of a long stem.

Once a year, the Venus Fly Trap produces a white flower on a long stem, about 12 inches tall, to facilitate pollination and reproduction. The flower, distinct from its trapping leaves, has green veins on the petals. 

As perennial plants, they bloom annually, with each trap having a limited lifespan of opening and closing. In spring, several stalks grow, leading to flower bunches, which can be fertilized for seed harvesting.

13. Venus Fly Trap leaves feature photosynthetic petioles and trapping lobes.

The Venus Fly Trap’s leaf blade is split into two parts: a flat, heart-shaped petiole capable of photosynthesis, and a pair of terminal lobes hinged at the midrib, forming the actual trap. 

This highly specialized mechanism can differentiate between living prey and non-living stimuli. The inner surfaces of the lobes have red pigment, and their edges secrete mucilage to aid in trapping prey.

14. Venus Fly Traps primarily feed on ants, spiders, and beetles.

The Venus Fly Trap’s diet mainly consists of ground-dwelling arthropods: 33% ants, 30% spiders, 10% beetles, and 10% grasshoppers, with less than 5% flying insects. 

Though it relies on photosynthesis, nutrient-poor soil in its habitat makes insect consumption necessary for essential elements like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

15. Venus Fly Trap stems can reach 3-10 cm high.

The Venus Fly Trap, a small plant, forms a rosette of four to seven leaves emerging from a bulb-like subterranean stem. Each stem reaches a size of about 3 to 10 centimeters, with longer leaves and robust traps developing post-flowering. 

Plants with more than seven leaves are colonies of divided rosettes underground. Additionally, it produces tall stems topped with small, white flowers during its bloom period.

16. Prey trapped inside a Venus Fly Trap dies by drowning.

fun facts about venus fly traps
Venus Fly Trap hunt.

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Once a Venus Fly Trap snaps shut on its prey, the struggle triggers the plant to secrete digestive enzymes. These enzymes, released from specialized glands, dissolve the insect’s exoskeleton. 

If the prey keeps stimulating the trap, it further seals the lobes, creating a stomach-like environment for digestion. This process involves hydrolase enzymes, including GH18 chitinase, which breaks down the chitin in the insect’s exoskeleton, effectively digesting it.

17. Venus Fly Traps tolerate fire, using it to reduce competition in habitat.

The Venus Fly Trap thrives in wet sandy and peaty soils and tolerates fire well, relying on periodic burns to reduce competition. Fire suppression poses a threat to its wild existence. 

Native exclusively to the coastal bogs of North and South Carolina, it’s accustomed to high summer temperatures, with its native soil temperature moderated by cool spring water seepage.

18. The Venus fly Trap is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN’s Red List.

The Venus fly Trap is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, mainly due to poaching and habitat destruction. 

Highly sought after by poachers, despite being available commercially, the plant faces the risk of extinction if these threats continue. Additionally, overcollection and fire suppression pose significant threats to its survival. 

19. Tap water is poison for Venus Fly Traps.

Venus Fly Traps must not be watered with tap water, as mineral buildup from it can be fatal. They require pure water like rainwater, distilled, or deionized water. During summer, keep them in 1cm of water without watering from above. 

In winter, the soil should remain damp, not wet. These plants naturally grow in moist environments and need consistent moisture to thrive.

20. Venus Fly Traps begin digestion after five stimuli confirm live prey.

venus flytrap hunt
Venus Fly Tap’s digesting mechanism.

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Venus Fly Traps require additional triggers, usually five more, to ensure they’ve caught live, nutritious prey before starting digestion. This process takes about 5-7 days, utilizing digestive glands to break down the prey’s exoskeleton. 

Only after digestion is complete does the trap reopen. The plant’s hairs also act as heat sensors, allowing it to shut during forest fires, enhancing its resilience to summer fires.

21. Venus Fly Traps can reduce bug populations indoors.

Venus Fly Traps, along with other carnivorous plants like pitcher plants and sundews, can effectively catch and consume insects, offering a natural way to control indoor bug populations. 

While they can reduce bugs at home, their capacity is limited to about 5-10 insects per month. They are particularly effective against larger flies. 

22. Charles Darwin wrote about the Venus Fly Traps in 1857.

Charles Darwin, in 1875, famously praised the Venus Fly Trap as ‘the most wonderful plant in the world.’ A true enthusiast, he dedicated an entire book to insect-eating plants, even contributing to its illustrations. 

Despite his extensive efforts, Darwin couldn’t unravel the evolutionary origin of the Venus Fly Trap, a mystery that remained unsolved well beyond his time.

FAQs

How big does a Venus flytrap get?

Venus flytraps typically grow to 5-6 inches in diameter, with mature forms reaching 10-12cm. Individual traps usually measure about 2-3cm. The largest recorded, an ‘Alien’ cultivar, measured an impressive 6.1 centimeters.

Where does Venus flytrap grow?

The Venus Flytrap is native to North and South Carolina, specifically within a 75-mile radius around Wilmington, North Carolina. This area includes parts of both states, located in temperate and subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States.

How do Venus fly traps work?

Venus flytraps lure prey with a fruity scent and trap them using sensitive trigger hairs on their leaves. Once shut, the plant secretes digestive juices, breaking down the insect over 5 to 12 days.

How to care for a Venus fly trap?

To care for a Venus Flytrap, provide bright sunlight for at least six hours daily and keep it on a sunny windowsill or 4-7 inches from fluorescent lights. Ensure constant moisture, especially in summer.

What do Venus flytraps eat?

Venus flytraps primarily eat insects and arachnids, including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and flying insects. They digest prey in 3-5 days and need feeding about twice a month, less in winter. Feeding them fruit can cause rot.

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