Lured by Sweetness to Insect Grave | Texas Termite Control

Lured by Sweetness to Insect Grave

The pitcher plant is not actually carnivorous, in the classic definition.  Carnivorous plants, like the famous Venus Fly Catcher, wait for insects to enter then clamp down their swift jaws and trap the hapless bug.

But even though the pitcher plant looks like any garden-variety leaf, it holds a pool of acid at the bottom of its funnel-like shape.  The acid bath, mixed with rainwater, not only kills the insects but pre-digests them into a ready-to-eat nutrient soup.

Feeding mainly on termites, the pitcher plant grows anywhere that receives high rainfall, in most countries around the world.  Its leaf is nothing special, but the nectar it produces is spilled liberally around the plant, drawing in hungry but unsuspecting insects from far and wide.

Because so much nectar is produced, as insects begin to feed they lose their grip on the surface of the leaf, slipping and sliding – downward.  Inside the funnel, they fall into the very bottom, which is pooled with acid.  With no way to climb out, the dying insect is steadily joined by a stream of other doomed bugs.  The pitcher plant is capable of killing 6,000 insects per hour.

The Nepenthes albormarginata or white-collared pitcher plant feeds exclusively on termites, and is native to Borneo.

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