Venus fly traps and other carnivorous plants
are cool, aren’t they? These plants get
their energy from the sun, just like other plants.
They get carbon dioxide through their leaves,
just like other plants. But they live where the
soil is very poor and has few nutrients. It
might be a sandy area, or a bog where the water is
acidic and dead stuff doesn’t break down.
Plants need nutrients to make their own cells.
Carnivorous plants get some of theirs by trapping
and breaking down insects for the nutrients in
their bodies. It doesn’t really matter what
kind of insect because all are made from the same
basic building blocks (nutrients).
The plants use chemicals called enzymes
to break down the unlucky bugs. There are
countless enzymes in living things. Some build
chemicals up. Others break chemicals down. The
carnivorous plants use enzymes like the ones in
your digestive system to break down their
prey. Then they absorb the nutrients (such as
nitrogen) and use them to make their own proteins.
Some of these proteins will be the digestive
enzymes that help to dissolve the next unlucky
It doesn’t matter to the plant who gets dissolved,
but what makes the Venus flytrap more likely to
catch flies than ants? Do you think there
are many carnivorous plants that have insect
If these sorts of questions interest you, you may
have a future in plant ecology.
Thanks for asking,