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Despite the carnivorous name, Venus Flytraps are more plant than animal. A Venus Flytrap has specific dietary requirements that do not involve meat meant for human consumption. The Venus Flytraps’ primary energy source is not from eating bugs, such as in animals, but from the soil and water like most plants. The insects are a means of survival by getting nutrients not available to them from the earth.
A Venus Flytrap does not eat meat as part of its regular diet. The Venus Flytrap prefers insects such as ants, rich in lipids and glycogen. The protein strands present in insects are not the energy source for the Venus Flytrap to survive in its harsh environment.
Despite popular belief that a carnivorous plant such as the Venus Flytrap can eat animal meat; It is not valid. A Venus Flytrap will most definitely turn black if you place a piece of hamburger meat inside of its trap.
What Does a Venus Flytrap Eat Regularly?
Venus Flytraps eat insects, spiders, and other bugs. Venus Flytraps have an extra step in getting the nutrients that they need to survive. One insect can provide the nutrients required for the plant to stay full for months. Most of the nutrients the Flytrap needs are collected from the soil and sunlight.
A Venus Flytrap dissolves its prey in a few days, leaving nothing behind. A well-fed Venus Flytrap will use one trap per week. The insects’ value to the Venus Flytrap rests in most insects’ high nitrogen and phosphorus levels. Ants are the most loved choice by Venus Flytraps specifically for this reason.
The insect’s fat cellular makeup is comprised of Trophocytes. In layman’s terms, it is a lot of lipids and glycogen with protein. When the trap door closes airtight, the digestive juices start filling in the sack of the Venus Flytrap, turning it into an external stomach.
The digestive enzymes that the Venus Flytrap produces are not formulated to digest complex proteins such as animal muscle and fat. Instead, the enzymes help the plant break down the chitin and blood of the insect to absorb the nitrogen and phosphorus molecules from the insect.
Here is a list of common bugs that your Venus Flytrap can and will eat.
- Other random insects that are flying around your ecosystem
How Does the Venus Flytrap Digest Its Prey?
There are tiny little hairs inside the trap on the leaf. The Venus Flytrap counts how many times the hair is triggered before it snaps shut. Once the hair is stimulated twice within twenty seconds, it triggers the snap response. The insect is trapped inside the trap and begins to struggle to get out, hitting the hairs at least five more times to activate the airlock and digestive juices to start to secret. Afterward, the only thing left of the insect is the dusty remains of a once existing exoskeleton.
The Venus Flytrap releases the necessary enzymes to break down the cellular structure of the insect and absorb the needed nutrients into the leaf. The Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics published a study centering around the digestive enzyme contents of the Venus Flytrap. Most of the proteins in the digestive juices were for digesting blood and fighting off pathogens.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are absorbed into the spongy inside of the plant leaf. These nutrients are not available in the natural environments where carnivorous plants live. Their primary purpose in catching and eating the insects is not energy but nutrients from these insects.
Certain hormones produced by the plant can slow down the digestive process or speed it up. Jasmonates(Plant hormones that aid in healing) helps the plant keep the insect inside the trap if it tries to eat its way out. Some hormones can even prevent the plant from closing on its prey, such as abscisic acid. It takes six hours for the Venus Flytrap to produce the enzymes that will start digesting the insects.
What to Do if You do Feed Your Venus Flytrap Meat
If you do feed your Venus Flytrap meat meant for human consumption, do not panic. The leaf you provided the meat in will turn black in a few days and start to rot. If your plant is located outside, then microorganisms in the soil will help speed up the decomposition process of the afflicted leaf. If your plant is located inside, then you will need to trim the black leaf from the plant and discard it in the trash.
The Venus Flytrap leaves only grow to be one inch long to catch the correct prey. Chickens, cows, pigs, large birds are not on the menu. Even some of the arthropods are too large for the Venus Flytrap to catch on its own. Insects such as crabs and lobster meat will also not be suitable for your Venus Flytrap. The Venus Flytrap needs insects that are roughly one-third the size of the leaf.
Hamburger meat contains much fat that is not present in insects. The plant has no way of digesting the fat from the beef or other red meat proteins. The leaf will perish and turn black, and the food will start to rot inside the leaf of the Venus Flytrap and begin to smell if left indoors.
Do not repeat the process of feeding your Venus Flytrap non-edible human-grade meat. Instead, feed your Venus Flytrap insects that it can catch on its own. You want to make sure that what you are providing your Venus Flytrap is sized correctly and cannot cause any harm to the plant.
What do I Feed My Venus Flytrap Instead of Meat?
A few specific insects are available at most pet stores as feed for reptiles that share a similar diet with the Venus Flytrap. Some of the more popular options include beetles such as ladybugs, crickets, and mealworms. One thing to remember is that the insect must be alive to trigger the digestive response; otherwise, the plant will not eat it without stimulation.
You can Feed them Baby Crickets
The larger adult crickets are usually bigger than one-third the size of the leaves. You want to look for smaller immature crickets to feed the Venus Flytrap. You can either stun the cricket in the freezer for a few minutes before giving it to the Venus Flytrap or let the plant catch it naturally in its terrarium.
The Venus Flytrap Will Eat Bloodworms
Bloodworms do need to be re-hydrated for the Venus Flytrap to eat them. It would help if you also stimulated the trigger hairs on your Venus Flytrap to get the digestive juices started. Supplemental feeding freeze-dried bloodworms would be the ideal feed for your Flytrap. You can use tutorial videos to explain preparing the freeze-dried worms and stimulating the plant to eat them.
Live Meal Worms Are the Best Option for Indoor Plants
Feeding the Venus Flytrap live worms that are no larger than one-third the size of the trap is the most natural way to feed them. If the mealworms are too large, then cut them down to the appropriate size before feeding them to your Venus Flytrap. You drop the wigglers into the open traps and let mother nature do the rest. The mealworms will trigger the snap and digestive response as they move around inside the trap.
A Venus Flytrap is a fun plant to have, and some places sell them seasonally with little information about the plant itself. Whether you choose to tend to your plant by feeding it supplementary or letting it naturally catch its prey, make sure its diet is derived solely from insects or mealworms. Anything else inside the trap will either cause bacterial rot or use all the plants’ reserve resources on a meal that it cannot digest.