The Dilemma of the Carnivorous Plant

Carnivorous plants need to procreate too. How do they do this? Why through pollination, of course. They grow flowers for insects to pollinate when they are ready to reproduce. Unfortunately, this involves the very insects that they also lure into their clutches and eat. So, how do these plants that are known for eating insects get those very insects to also pollinate them so that they can continue to thrive as a species? They somehow need to be able to still trap and eat insects without ruining their chances of getting pollinated.

The main dilemma here is that the plants have to be able to separate and keep from confusing the insects they are going to eat with those that they need for pollination. And, apparently, they’ve got a pretty good handle on how to do this. One way these carnivorous plants do this is by having their flowers that need pollinating bloom and die before their insect trap opens to lure food in. They make sure that the two are never active at the same time. Another method used is for the plant to have their flowers blossom above water, while the traps grow underwater. Some separate their flowers from the traps by having the flowers grow on long stalks.

What scientists find even more interesting is that there seems to be very few mistakes made when it comes to trapping the correct insects, and leaving the pollinators free to do their job. They believe that these plants use different scent cues to guide their pollinators to their flowers and their prey to the traps. Researchers have found that other carnivorous plants use visual signals to protect their pollinators from accidentally falling into their traps. For example, the flowers may grow tall enough that the pollinators have no problem identifying the flower that they need to pollinate.

How else do you think carnivorous plants might make sure that they don’t accidentally lure their pollinators into their traps?

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