June 03

Venus Flytrap Photo Credit: Clipart.com

Science Fact

Feed Me, Seymour! The Venus Flytrap

When triggered, the carniverous Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) closes in fewer than 100 milliseconds. It takes the plant approximately 10 days to digest the insect, at which point it will re-open. However, each hinged trap can only be engaged three to six times before it no longer works. It then shrivels up and falls off the plant.

Venus Flytraps attract insects with its red coloration and by secreting a sugary substance bugs find appealing. Insects land on the trap, and those that are more than a .25 inches in length will brush against at least one of the trap's six trigger hairs. If the insect again touches a trigger hair within 20 seconds, the trap will snap closed, snaring the insect inside and crushing its body in order to begin digestion. Should a trap close without capturing its prey, it will reopen within 12 hours.

Found wild only in the bogs of North and South Carolina, the Venus Flytrap is considered vulnerable because of the pollution of its limited habitat. At last count, there were fewer than half a million plants left in nature (although there are 3–6 million cultivated plants).

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