When you think of a jungle adventure, what comes to mind? Swinging around from tree to tree on vines? Gorgeous birds flying through the air? Monkeys and other exotic creatures prowling through the dense forest?

Or do you think of plants? Probably not, right? After all, plants aren’t the most exciting living things in the world. Or are they? They just sit there and soak up water and nutrients from the soil and the sun, right? Or do some plants do more?

Would you believe that there are some plants that eat insects and even small animals from time to time? It’s true! We call these exotic things carnivorous plants. Although most carnivorous plants eat small insects, larger carnivorous plants in tropical areas have been known to capture rats, birds, and frogs.

One carnivorous plant that many students are familiar with is the Venus flytrap. Its unique “jaws” can be triggered by flies and other small insects. Once its jaws close on its prey, the Venus flytrap secretes enzymes that break down the insect into a goo that can be absorbed for its nutrients.

There are several other examples of carnivorous plants. The pitcher plant, for example, has leaves like champagne flutes, which can capture insects. Sundews, on the other hand, trap their victims with sticky tentacles. Bladderworts grow in ponds and streams, where they suck in their prey like underwater vacuum cleaners.

Carnivorous plants tend to grow in areas where the soil is very thin and lacks necessary nutrients. To survive, these plants must find other sources for the nutrients they need. Trapping and digesting insects allows these unique plants to survive. Unfortunately, human and environmental factors continue to threaten the limited environments where you can find wild carnivorous plants.

For many people, the thought of a plant eating an animal seems very strange. In fact, more than one person has turned the idea into a scary story or movie. Don’t worry, though, carnivorous plants don’t pose any danger to humans. Unless you’re the size of a tiny insect, you don’t have to worry about falling prey to a Venus flytrap or a pitcher plant.

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    • We think it’s AWESOME that you are exploring past Wonders of the Day today, Hannah! We’re proud of you for choosing some topics that interest you and learning new things! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Woo, hoo! What a SUPER nice thing to say, Hannah! We’re so happy that you have found Wonderopolis again and realize how fun it is to learn new things here! :-)

  1. Wow! I would hate to be eaten like insects can be by a plant! Ethan said he would hate to be a fly in the jungle. Aaliah would hate to die like flies in a plant’s traps. Do the carnivorous plants suck up carbon dioxide like other plants? Are most carnivorous plants found in the jungle?

    • Hi there, Mrs. Atkinson’s Class, thanks for sharing your WONDERful comments with us today! :)

      We wouldn’t like to be eaten by a plant either- yikes! We enjoyed reading the thoughts of our Wonder Friends, Ethan and Aaliah, today, too! We hope you’ll continue to do some more WONDERing of your own about carnivorous plants and where they live! Keep up the great work! :)

  2. We have been learning about plants in science and really enjoyed thinking about the venus fly trap. We were left with lots of questions and things we like to learn more about. Demi wonders if carnivorous plants are endangered. Braiden, Hudson and Jessica wonder if the venus fly trap only eats flies and if so, what kind? Alexis wonders about the bladderwort plant and would like to learn more about it. Kyler wonders if the venus fly traps eat bees and Kiera and Evy wonder why does the fly trap take 7 – 12 days to eat a fly.Riley wonders if it would hurt if you put your finger in the venus fly trap. Aidan wonders how long a venus fly trap plant can live and lots of us were wondering what the roots of a venus fly trap look like. Thank you for sparking our curiosity! We are going to try and find answers to some of our questions tomorrow in the computer lab.

    • Hi, Wonder Friend sian pi! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis and sharing what you learned today! We hope to see you back tomorrow! :)

  3. Yes! The plant is called The Venus Fly Trap. And in Nintendo Super Mario Galaxy it’s called a Piranha Plant. There is also a pitcher plant.

    • Thank you for sharing your connection to today’s Wonder of the Day, Lawrence! We’re SO GLAD you spent time exploring carnivorous plants with us today, Wonder Friend! :)

    • WONDERful question, Roman! We’re not sure how many carnivorous plants there are in the world Some examples of carnivorous plants are the pitcher plant, sundews, and bladderworts. We hope you have a WONDERful day! :)

  4. this is a cool website and it is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool.

    • We are SO GLAD you think Wonderopolis is COOL, Wonder Friend Dalia! We appreciate your enthusiasm and excitement today! We hope you WONDER with us again soon! :)

  5. Venus flytrap eats insects and the Venus mouth is sticky and it’s hard to get out and then the Venus close it’s mouth and eats it. People say Venus flytrap is for plant in their back yard.

    • Welcome back to Wonderopolis, Wonder Friend Anthony! Thank you for sharing all your SUPER learning with us today! We’re proud of you! We hope to see you back tomorrow! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can plants eat insects?
  • What are some examples of carnivorous plants?
  • Do carnivorous plants pose any danger to human beings?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

After today’s Wonder of the Day, you might look at plants a little differently. Keep learning more about interesting plants by checking out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Did you realize that carnivorous plants can be extremely beautiful? If you’ve never seen many examples of carnivorous plants, check out this Carnivorous Plant Photo Gallery online. Which plants do you think are the most beautiful? Do you think any of them look scary? If you were an insect, do you think you’d be attracted to these plants? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever seen a Venus flytrap in action? Check out these interesting videos to watch these fascinating plants in action:
  • When was the last time you took a trip to explore the fascinating flora of the Amazon or the native succulents of the Serengeti? No need to let a little thing like time or money stand in your way! The New York Botanical Garden makes it possible to get up close and personal with a variety of plants from around the globe without ever leaving home. Take a virtual trek through eight unique biomes — from wetlands to deserts — and learn about the botanical inhabitants who live in each “house.” Visit the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory of The New York Botanical Garden and investigate the secret lives of more than 66 plants from around the globe with just the click of a button. Research the history of a succulent revered for its medicinal powers for more than 2,000 years. Discover a plant that has been used to scour dirty dishes and polish furniture. Meet a tree with heart. Whether you visit for an hour or an afternoon, curious minds are sure to blossom. Who knows? Your budding botanist may even become the next great plant hunter.

 

Still Wondering

Visit Teacher’s Domain to watch the Photosynthesis video segment from Interactive NOVA: “Earth.” This video looks at photosynthesis, the chemical process plants use to make their own food.

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