Dionaea muscipula, more commonly known as the Venus Fly trap is-as the name suggests a carnivorous plant. As well as being carnivorous, Venus fly traps do photosynthesise just like other plants, but their natural boggy shady habitats make it difficult to do so. A sweet nectar is secreted around the inside of the trap as a delicious treat for attracting unsuspecting insects. These helpless victims then touch the small trigger hairs on the inside of the trap, firing off an electric signal.
The trigger hairs must be triggered within 20 seconds of an adjacent one for the trap to shut. This is to prevent the trap from shutting unnecessarily. For instance, if debris of rain drops fall on the trap it will not trigger. This snapping shut movement is one of the fastest movements in the plant kingdom, moving at 100 metres per second.
Once trapped, as the prey tries to flee, the plant begins releasing digestive enzymes – slowly digesting the insect and giving the plant essential nutrients. This process of digestion can take up to five days.
Some studies indicate Venus fly traps even avoid pollinating companion insects in to their traps, sparing their lives. This makes sense, as they have to reproduce… Alongside their ability to differentiate between prey and rain drops, this makes Venus Fly traps almost seem consciously intelligent.
In 2017, scientists exposed Venus fly traps to anaesthesia. And, just as one would expect from a more biologically advanced organism, the fly trap failed to shut when triggered.
It’s all a bit too close to ‘Day of the Triffids’ in my opinion…
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