Exploring Predator Plants

Exploring Predator PlantsDo you remember from your childhood, those moments when something in nature captivated you? Perhaps it was the first time you saw a caterpillar munching away at a leaf or a rose plant covered in aphids.  Well, children will be captivated by this next activity. Not only is it a wonderful way to show that nature is unique and varied but it’s a gentle introduction to the concept of predators and the balance needed in the environment.

When Miss Possum stumbled on and asked about a Venus Fry Trap at a garden center last month, I showed her how it works. Using a small stick, I put pressure on the inside of a trap and we watched it close. I gave the stick to Miss Possum and she was hooked. She stood at the display for ages, closing every single trap. I jumped on her interest and bought a Venus Fly Trap and a Trumpet Pitcher Plant to take home.  I wanted to explore the two different types of predatory plants with her.

Taking care of your Venus fly trap and trumpet Pitcher Plant

First, we had to learn how to take care of our plants.  After reading the tag that came with the plants, we learnt that taking care of these plants is slightly different from the average one in your garden. They need access to water at all times, so it’s important to keep them in a tray of water. They also require plenty of sun.  If your plant starts to get a little burnt from the sun, you’ll need to move it into an area that has slightly less sun through the heat of the day.

Learning about why plants capture insects

Miss Possum asked why all the plants in our garden don’t catch insects. This was a perfect opportunity to learn more about these plants and why they catch insects.  We watched a few You Tube clips to find out why plants have adapted to eating insects. Miss Possum was truly mesmerised with this clip.

We learnt that carnivorous plants usually live in areas where nutrients in their environment are scarce, so they need to eat animals to have their needs met.

Learning about the different capture methods of the two plants

We found out that both attract insects using their colouration and nectar. The difference between the two plants is how they trap their prey.  The traps of the Venus Fly Trap spring shut once the trigger hairs are touched, trapping the insect inside, whilst the Trumpet Pitcher Plant draws the insect close to the tube’s edge and the insect falls down where it drowns in the plants digestive juices.  Venus fly trap

Where to get a Venus Fly Trap and Trumpet Pitcher Plant?

Like us, you can go to your local garden shop and see if they have any for sale. If they don’t, ask them if they can get them in.  You can also buy them online too! Of course, there may be restrictions on these two plants in different countries. Perhaps you could find out if there are any native predatory plants in your country.

To this day Miss Possum enjoys poking our Venus Fly Tap with a stick and seeing their traps close. She even checks the trumpets for newly caught flies (whilst holding her nose).  We’ve even found a dead fly in the house and put it inside, just so the fly isn’t wasted, and our fly trap stays healthy. Honestly, nature is as fascinating as it is fun!

Follow up activities

  • Learn more about predators and prey
  • Learn more about other types of predatory plants. Carnivorous plants by David Attenborough is another great You Tube Clip to learn about more Carnivorous plants.
  • Discuss insect control – chemical vs. natural
  • Find out more about the predators to insects

predator plants

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    • Samantha says

      Not predatory, but The TickleMe Plant is my kid’s and student’s favorite plant because it moves much more than any of the carnivorous ones. Tickle this plant and the leaves close and branches droop only to reopen in minutes, not hours or days. Find TickleMe Plants and the TickleMe Plant Book online…a great friend of the Venus Fly Trap and Zombie Plant.

  1. says

    Predator plants are fascinating, even my husband and I love getting them to trap things! We don’t have any of these in our garden, but perhaps we should – I know my kids would enjoy exploring what they do!

    • Penny says

      I remember playing with them when I was little but I can’t remember learning much about them. It was a really interesting activity for both Miss Possum and myself!

  2. says

    I absolutely loved reading this post because predator plants are so interesting and clever! Such a great way to get kids interested in plants. Do such plants grow in most areas?
    Ah David Attenborough, may he live on forever.

    • Penny says

      It’s amazing how plants adapted to catch insect. A little freaky lately. I love David Attenborough. He always hooks me with this wildlife videos!

    • Penny says

      Thanks Jode. I really enjoyed this activity too. Nature is so interesting. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of learning about it!

  3. says

    Oh, I want a Fry Trap Plant!!! I absolutely love how you grabbed the opportunity for learning through Miss Possum’s inquisitiveness and questions. I love how the dead fly was not wasted :) Such a fabulous topic!

    • Penny says

      I couldn’t not buy one for her Janice. They are so interesting. I don’t know if they really catch flies though. We’ve had heaps of flies around our home and not one has been attracted to it. Luckily, David Attenborough gave us some video footage to watch!

    • Penny says

      Did the traps ever catch on Renee? Ours doesn’t seem to catch them. I don’t mind though because Miss Possum watched it happening in the documentary.

    • Penny says

      You’re welcome Kylie. They ARE cool aren’t they. I don’t think I’ll ever know the all the awesome adaptations plants and animals have adapted.

    • Penny says

      Thanks Rebecca. I’m glad you liked it. I wonder how many carnivorous plants are out there. Hmm another thing for me to research!

  4. says

    I remember as a kid being so fascinated by the Venus Fly Trap. The Trumpet Pitcher Plant looks amazing too. Will definitely have to get some for our boys.
    Thanks for sharing, Penny x

  5. kirri says

    I have to be honest and say that they creep me out. (I think I must have a scary fly trap movie image somewhere in my past) – I know my girls would be fascinated though…

    The idea of a carnivorous plant is mind-boggling to me and yes – I’m a hypocrite as I enjoy eating plants all the time :)

    • Penny says

      I remember seeing a play/musical about a plant that grew and then ate people? I can’t remember the name of it though. The plants we got are really little and I’m sure if you saw one you wouldn’t really be creeped out. It’s the thought of them isn’t it!

      I’m certain your girls would LOVE to have one 😉

  6. says

    I have to admit, I went to our local nursery today and bought a Venus Fly Trap! I thought it would be a great solution to our fly problem …but the guy at the garden centre told me that it will not catch flies, it’s just a novelty!? …the tag in the plant said it DOES so I am going with that!

    • Penny says

      They are meant to Julie but ours hasn’t caught a fly yet. :( The trumpet pitcher plant did though. I’m hanging for winter when all the flies go away!

  7. says

    This would be so fascinating. Like you said, so much to learn from these little plants. It would be interesting to create a little discovery journal for kids to document what they have learnt. I have so many ideas buzzing around in my head now from reading this. I know Jack will find this so fascinating too. A trip to the nursery on the weekend I think…..

  8. says

    I love those plants! We have a great garden centre not too far from us, and they have a great selection. I’m always tempted to get one, but I never actually do.
    I might just do it finally for the boys. I’m sure they’d love it too! :)


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