|Venus Flytraps General Info|
Venus Flytraps are native to coastal regions of North and South Carolina. They do not grow anywhere else in the world unless introduced by man. Sometimes mistaken for tropical plants, they are actually a hardy perennial, and will experience frosts each year. Venus Flytraps are monotypical, meaning that it is the only species of it's genus. Some plants will display different or odd characteristics, and many have been developed and cloned to produce uniform plants with consistent traits. Some forms such as 'dente', and 'fine tooth' have shorter trap bars lending a menacing appearance. Others such as 'akai ryu', or other red varieties like 'royal red' or 'regal red' will develop deep red color over the entire plant. These types of 'mutant' VFT are registered as 'cultivars' with the International Carnivorous Plant Society, to ensure that the genetics stay true and can be positively identified.
As Venus Flytraps grow, they will push new leaves up from the center of the plant. The first leaves that appear in the spring will be short and broad, compared to the longer thinner summer leaves. Older leaves will turn black from the trap down, and may brown along the edges before turning black. This is normal, and blackened growth can be trimmed away. Contrary to what seems to be a popular belief, Never ever feed a VFT meat or anything high in protien, it will burn the leaf and can eventually rot, exposing the rest of the plant to fungus. In fact, never feed them anything that isn't an insect. It is best to let them fend for themselves, but the occasional force feeding of an unlucky insect is OK.
Though they can eat insects, they are also sometimes eaten by insects themselves. Pests like grasshoppers or caterpillars can devour entire leaves or more, but I have rarely had such problems with them. The most common pest is aphids, and usually more so is the spring. The easiest way to eradicate your VFT of any pests, is to submerge the Entire plant in distilled water or rain water for 24-36 hours. Just fill a gallon bucket, or any container deep enough, and gently help your plant sink to the bottom. Anything infesting the plant will drown, and the VFT won't mind taking the dip at all.
How do they work? On the inner lobes of the trap, there are 3 tiny 'trigger' hairs. When one of these hairs is touched twice, or two seperate hairs are touched, the trap will close. When the unlucky insect is first trapped, it's struggling will only to tell the traps to close tighter, until it seals and fills with digestive fluid. It can sometimes take more stimulation for the response, and other factors can also trigger traps to close. VFT's that are kept in very humid conditions, when brought into lower humidity, will sometimes close All of their traps in protest. Excess handling of the trap leaves can sometimes trigger closure even though no trigger hairs have been touched.
Some carnivorous plants have trapping methods that are active, and some use methods that are passive. Venus Flytraps are definitely active. It is still a matter of debate as to what happens in the plant to make it an 'active trap'. It has been said that it is similar to electrical responses in nerve systems found in animals, and some scientists feel that stimulation of the trigger hairs causes an 'explosive' cell growth at the trap's fold, causing it to close. Lab experiments have shown that electricity alone can trigger traps to close. One thing that is clearly understood- they Do indeed digest their prey. If a trap has captured a suitable meal, it will usually take 5-10 days to open back up, exposing the undigestible parts of the insect. After that, it can catch another meal. Some traps will have remnants from several kills before they blacken and wilt.