Can Venus Flytraps Survive Without Bugs?

can venus flytraps survive without bugs

Most of what we know and see of the Venus flytrap is its fascinating trapping mechanism. After all, that’s how it got its name! So it’s natural when we decide to take care of one to be concerned when it does not eat as often or as rapidly as expected. As a venus flytrap owner, it’s essential to understand the role that bugs play within the diet of your Venus flytrap and exactly what your venus flytrap needs to survive. 

Bugs and insects provide Venus flytraps with the extra nutrients that the soil may not provide in the wild. While bugs can ensure a venus flytrap’s health and growth, they are not necessary for its survival. 

Caring for a Venus flytrap can be a confusing and seemingly daunting task compared to herbivorous plants. One of the biggest concerns of flytrap owners is where your plant is getting its nutrients. Learning to maintain your flytraps’ soil and habitat while also understanding how your flytrap grows and eats is a process. Read on to learn more about the needs of your venus flytrap and how it works to give it the longest possible lifespan.

Will A Venus Flytrap Die If It Doesn’t Eat?

Venus flytraps are plants, which means they get most of their nutrients from the soil. Because of how easily the conditions of the soil change in the Venus flytraps’ natural habitat, the Venus flytraps have evolved to prey on living things like bugs and insects. 

Bugs and insects serve as a supplement or extra nutrients for your Venus flytrap. Because you can thoroughly maintain the soil your flytrap lives in, these bugs and insects are not a completely necessary source of nutrients. 

If your flytrap’s soil is nutrient-dense, then your flytrap will not need to eat live bugs or insects to survive. 

How Long Does a Venus Flytrap Live?

In the right conditions, a Venus flytrap can live forever, but according to the National Wildlife Federation, the average recorded lifespan of a Venus flytrap is about 20 years.

How the Trapping Mechanism Works

There are 2-3 trigger hairs on each of the plant’s traps. These are what cause the trapping mechanism to engage. The traps can only open and close a maximum of 6-10 times before falling off. Once one trap falls off, the plant will produce a new one to continue its growth.

The Leaf Base Regenerates

The individual leaves of a Venus flytrap are considered individual plants because of the way the flytrap grows. As a result of the shared connective tissues and root systems, when older leaves die, new leaves will develop, which means the plant maintains life.

Setting The Right Conditions

If you want your venus flytrap to surpass the 20-year mark, you must maintain the right conditions. There are four crucial aspects of your flytrap’s habitat, according to North Dakota State University. These aspects include :

  • Soil 
  • Temperature 
  • Humidity
  • Light 

If you are growing your flytrap outdoors, you should slowly introduce it to sunlight if it hasn’t received much previously. Introducing your venus flytrap to the outdoors too rapidly may cause it to die. Increasing its exposure by a few hours every day is best.

AspectsConditionsExamples
Soil– Peat Moss 
– Sphagnum
*Experts suggest mixing a bit of silica or orchid bark and adding charcoal to remove salts with rain or distilled water
Sphagnum Moss Potting Mix
Reverse Osmosis Filter
Temperature/Humidity– A temperature of 70°-95°F and as low as 40°F in winter
– A humidity of 50%-70%
Soil Thermometer
Humidity Monitor
Light– 13-15 Hours/Day Fluorescent  or LED bulbs with sunlight white light 
– 6-8 Inches away from your flytrap
LED Cool White Natural Sunlight Bulb

Growing a Venus flytrap indoors is a bit more complicated but is definitely doable. Putting your flytrap in a southeast or west-facing window for 4+ hours a day will keep it healthy and happy.

Growing your flytrap indoors with only north-facing or no windows will shorten its lifespan. It can undoubtedly grow with the help of fluorescent lighting, but year-round use with an unchanging amount of light does not align with your plant’s dormancy period.

Your Flytrap’s Dormant Period

The dormancy period of your venus flytrap should be at least 10-weeks. Your flytrap uses this period to rest and store its energy for its growing seasons.

If you are growing your Venus flytrap outside, in the middle and northern U.S hemispheres, You should bring your Venus flytrap inside during the winter months. During these months, it is preferred that you place your trap in a south-facing window. 

A night-time temperature of 32°- 55° F (0°- 12°C) and a day-time temperature of 70°- 80° F (21°- 27°C) is best during its dormancy period. Your flytrap will continue growing during this period but normally at a slower pace than in the warmer months of the year. 

can venus flytraps survive without bugs

What Do Venus Flytraps Eat?

According to the New York Botanical Garden, Venus flytraps prefer live prey over dead prey. Live insects and bugs will simulate the trigger hairs of your flytrap and cause the flytrap to close. If you are feeding your flytrap dead insects, you will need to stimulate the trigger hairs with a toothpick, or else the flytrap will not close or digest the insect. You must be sure not to feed your flytrap anything more than ⅓ of the individual trap’s size.

Acceptable foods for your flytrap include: 

  • Crickets
  • Flies
  • Slugs
  • Spiders

Feeding your venus flytrap meat will kill it. Some suggest that caterpillars are 1 of the venus flytraps’ favorite foods, but you also run the risk of a caterpillar eating its way out of the flytrap. Be sure not to give you flytrap objects that are not food, as this will drain the plants’ energy unnecessarily.

When To Feed Your Venus Fly Trap

You will not need to feed your flytrap if it is outdoors or in its dormancy period. It’s important to make sure that you do not overfeed your flytrap if it is indoors. Overfeeding your flytrap will cause it to overproduce traps. It will also reduce its overall lifespan and increase its needed amount of care.

A lot of energy is needed for a trap to close and digest its food. As stated earlier, traps can only open and close 6-10 times maximum before they fall off. It takes one trap approximately 10-days to completely digest its food, so a good rule is to feed one trap a week. This rule allows each trap enough time to trap the insect, trigger digestion, and complete digestion without overworking the plant.

How Do I Attract Flies To My Venus Flytrap

There is no need for you to attract flies to your Venus flytrap. According to The National Center For Biotechnology Information, Venus flytraps release nectar to attract live prey. The nectar is released onto its open traps. 

The nectar secreted has a scent similar to that of flowers and fruit. Because insects are often searching for food, the flytrap’s prey easily mistakes its scent for food. The insects land on the traps hoping for a meal, and the trap is triggered to shut.

Venus flytraps have adapted to attract and consume their prey. If it needs the flies for extra nutrients, it will trap them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be hard to understand all the different aspects of caring for your Venus flytrap, especially its nutritional needs. Knowing the mechanics of your Venus flytrap, how it grows and how to properly maintain its habitat can ensure a longer lifespan for your Venus flytrap and help it live long past its estimated 20 years.