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Carnivorous Plant Terrariums

Nov 7, 2007
As a child I was given a Venus fly trap and it was indeed a fascinating addition to the collection of cacti I kept. The highly unique nature of this infamous plant is the ability to lure its prey using a combination of color and moisture.

Often referred to as a snap trap, fly traps most often prey on insects and is known to consume a variety of protein sources, including spiders. The insect lands in the bloom and the leaves of the bloom quickly close. Encasing its meal inside this clamshell bloom, the plant will absorb the protein. The plant will eventually expel the remains ready for the next meal to land.

This particular type of insectivorous plant relies on involuntary response to touch, activating the closing response. This automatic response could be demonstrated be lightly touching the bright red surface of the bloom with the tip of a pencil. Snap goes the trap.

Venus fly traps are one of several varieties of carnivorous plant species that can be a great addition to any plant terrarium. With many species that are native to North America, across the world there are thought to be six hundred or so species of carnivorous or insectivorous plants.

A terrarium can be used to imitate growing conditions that are not normally found here in America adding to and extending the enjoyment of your carnivorous plant terrarium.

While insectivorous plants are indeed meat-eaters, it is important to understanding that there is no such thing a man-eating plant. The idea of a man-eating plant has been largely the creation of the movies and television. Who can forget the lovely and deadly Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors? With a smile and almost Hollywood allure, Audrey the Venus fly trap would cobble up the nearest unsuspecting human in order to survive. This makes for great movie viewing but has no basis in reality.

Another prevalent type of trapping mechanism can be found in those carnivorous plants that secrete a type of glue or mucilage. The soon-to-be devoured prey lands on the plant and quickly finds itself stuck like a bug on flypaper. Smaller insects are helpless to escape while a larger, stronger bug may be able to free itself from otherwise certain death.

An example of these types of plants includes the prolific sundews. Sundews can be found in roughly one hundred different species types and can be quite interesting to watch. Some species of sundews sport a long center tentacle covered with hair-like arms. Much like the name implies, a dewy substance or glue forms on the end of the tiny hairs.

When the prey becomes stuck, the tentacle will actually bend or curl further trapping the prey. The movement required is more graceful and takes longer than the faster snapping action of the Venus fly trap and other types of snap trap bug eaters.

Pitcher or pitfall type plants offer still another exciting example of Mother Nature at her carnivorous best. The name pitfall aptly describes the mechanism by which the prey insect becomes trapped and eventually digested. Pitfall or pitcher species are quite widespread from the jungle of South America and north to Canada and bacterial breakdown of the prey is most method of digestion.

Using a system of rolled leafs much like a Chinese cabbage, insect prey may check but they rarely check out, getting lost in the maze of leaf folds. Some North American species are quite hardy and can be easily grown and cared for in your carnivorous plant terrarium.

So pull up a chair and spend some time watching Mother Nature and her merry band of plant carnivores in your own home or office.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular
terrarium site:
TerrariumSale.com. He provides information on how to build a terrarium, terrarium plants and glass terrariums.
His website,www.TerrariumSale.com
also has information on reptile terrariums, frog terrariums and lizard terrariums.
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