Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies

Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies

If you are looking for a convenient way to rid your home or yard of pesky flies, you might want to consider investing in a few carnivorous plants. If you’ve ever seen the play, Little Shop of Horrors, then you are familiar with Audrey II, the ever-eating, ever-growing cross between a Venus flytrap and an avocado with teeth. Only instead of flies, Audrey II was partial to eating humans. However, we will leave Audrey II to her own devices and focus on the real world of carnivorous plants.

What are Carnivorous Plants?

Would you believe there are at least 600 species of carnivorous plants? Like their name suggests, carnivorous plants eat creatures and organisms that are living beings. They are cagey in that they can adapt to all sorts of hostile and difficult conditions and terrain, including bogs, swamps, forests, bodies of water, sandy soil, and rocky terrain. Also, they have a variety of ways to capture and eat their prey.

How Do They Entice Victims?

Carnivorous plants attract their prey in a number of ways. Some produce a special nectar that draws victims, others camouflage themselves, and still others lure them with beautiful flowers that grow tall from the actual consuming part of the plant.  There are 5 different types of traps, including pitfall, adhesive, snap, snare, and suction.

Pitfall Traps

These plants feature a leaf or rosettes that form into either a tube or jug like traps. Nectar at the rim of the jug attracts prey who fall victim to a slippery substance that causes them to fall into a base filled with digestive juices.

Two examples of this type of trap are the biggest carnivore plant in the world, the Giant Montane Pitcher plant and the Cobra plant.

Snap Traps

A feat of impressive engineering, snap traps entice their prey with a flower, but they are then caught in traps that snap shut. The insect or reptile causes the trigger hairs to send an impulse to the ensnaring leaf blades to snap closed and capture the unwitting creature.

Adhesive Traps

They may look beautiful, but the dew-like droplets on these plants are really tasty, sticky substances that capture and paralyze their victims. Those that struggle to get free become completely coated and will end up suffocating. Believe it or not, some varieties of these plants have tentacles that will reach around to grab their fighting victims. The sundew plant is an example of an adhesive trap plant.

Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies

Venus Flytraps

Venus flytrap that has captured a fly. Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies
Venus flytrap and fly

The most well-known of carnivorous plants, the Venus flytrap is most popular for capturing and ingesting flies and insects. With its current roots in North and South Carolina, this plant is also found as far north as New Jersey, but because of its popularity as a house plant, it is close to being put on the endangered species list.   

The Venus flytrap seduces prey with its juicy, sweet nectar, and when the target brushes the plant’s inside trap hairs, an electrical signal causes the trap to snap shut, capturing and enclosing the victim.

Once caught, the fly is then broken down by the digestive enzymes in the plant and is then absorbed as a delicious and nutritious meal for the plant. Once this is complete, the plant’s jaws reopen, and it is ready to capture another fly.

Related: How to Grow Carnivorous Plants from Seeds

Are They Always Successful?

Despite being touted in children’s literature and real life as a household pest-eliminator, the Venus flytrap is not always successful in its endeavors. For example, if a large insect, such as a spider, finds its way into the trap, it can make its way out by chewing through the plant, therefore damaging it, possibly for good.

Do They Have a Brain?

Not as such, but the mechanisms that make these plants work make it appear they have some memory. For example, when one of the trigger hairs is brushed two times within 20-seconds, the trap snaps shut, and if there are five touches, the digestive enzymes in the plant increase production. No, the Venus flytrap does not have a nervous system, but what it does have is calcium in the leaves, which is the catalyst for the leaves to close.

Are Humans in Danger?

Clearly, based on the size differences between humans and Venus flytraps, there is no danger of being ingested by the plant. But what if you should stick your finger in one? No worries for you, but possibly some for the plant. Your finger can set off the capture-digestion process, which means the plant expels unnecessary energy it needs elsewhere.

How to Take Care of a Venus Flytrap

Venus flytraps grow well in a moist environment
Greenhouse

Related: Best Soil for Carnivorous Plants

Caring for a Venus flytrap is not like taking care of any other houseplant. In order to thrive, they need the following:

  • Sunlight: In short, the Venus flytrap needs lots of sun. It is best to let them spend time outside in the sun, but if not, a sunny window is in order. If your plant does not get enough sunlight, its leaves will wilt.
  • Humidity: Greenhouses, terrariums, conservatories – all these environments will cause the Venus flytrap to flourish. However, they can also do well outside of these.
  • Dormancy: Venus flytraps need a rest! From November to February, put them in a cold spot. In March, remove and cut back any black or flopping leaves.
  • Water: No tap water! Regular tap water will indeed kill your plant because it is full of minerals that prove deadly to the plant. Use rain or distilled water, and sit the plant in it rather than water it from above.
  • Soil: Like most carnivorous plants, Venus flytraps need special soil. Buy a sphagnum-based mix that is high in acidity. Avoid using fertilizer.

Related: Best Carnivorous Plants for Fruit Flies

Dead Bugs?

What if the environment your plant is in does not have enough bugs to keep it fed? Yes, you can feed it dead flies. Don’t worry about overfeeding it, although the general consensus is to feed them 4 times a year with 3 or 4 flies at a feeding.

Related: A Great Indoor Pole Stand for Carnivorous Plants

Other Fly Catchers

In addition to the Venus flytrap, there are other carnivorous plants that specialize as flycatchers.

Sundews

Beautiful and alluring sundew carnivorous plant
Sundew carnivorous plant

The sundew is an adhesive trap plant with sticky hairs that capture its victims. Once stuck in their glue, the plant begins to digest the prey by encircling it with its “arms.”

Cape Sundews

Drosera capensis is known as the Cape Sundew. These plants are also adhesive traps that secrete a sticky substance to capture the victim. Its leaves then encircle it in a closed area where the flies are digested.

Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies - Cape Sundew
Cape Sundew that has captured a fly
Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies Drosera capensis Cape Sundew
Closeup of Cape Sundew

Spoon Leaf Sundew

This sturdy plant, Drosera spatulata, has sticky hairs that capture prey and begin the digestive process.

Spoon Leaf Sundew - Drosera spatulata - Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies
Spoon Leaf Sundew

Monkey Cups

Native to Asia, Nepenthes, Monkey Cups, or Tropical Pitcher plants, look like pitchers that are filled with water to attract victims. Another leaf comes down on top of the prey to capture it.

Best Carnivorous Plants for Flies - Two species of Monkey Cups, Nepenthes or  Tropical Pitcher Plants
Two species of Monkey Cups, Nepenthes or Tropical Pitcher Plants

Summary

Growing and nurturing a carnivorous plant is a fun and interesting activity for you and your family. Do take heed of their need for careful care and you will have a source of fascination for years to come. Plus you can have fewer flies!

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Last update on 2022-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API