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Pesky gnats and flies indoors?

September 9, 2014

No need for bug sprays full of chemicals! The safe answer to your problems - Carnivorous Plants!!!

 

You know them! The most commonly known is the Venus Fly Trap.

Carnivorous plants trap their prey by either using sticky mucilage, snapping with rapid leaf movements, sucking them in, or through inward pointing hairs.

 

nepenthes plant at San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

 

 

 

I've had 4 different kinds of carnivorous plants, both at home and at the office: pitcher plants, sundews, Venus fly traps and a tropical pitcher plant of the genus Nepenthes.

The most fascinating to observe in action, of course, is the venus fly trap, whose trap lobes are sensitive to touch and snap shut to inter their prey.

 

Fun they are to watch, but I've had no luck with them. They seem to be very delicate and perish easily, turning black and withering in spite of my efforts to keep them hydrated. But it doesn't help if curious folk keep poking at the poor plant to watch the trap mechanism at work.

Venus fly trap illustration by William Curtis (1746 - 1799) from National Agricultural Library of USDA Agricultural Research Service. uploaded by Citron for Wikipedia

 

 

My VERY FAVORITE was "Mr. Tentacles", a fairly small specimen of sundew, only about 6" high at its tallest. A "flypaper trap", this plant has long thin leaves with sticky mucilage glands along the sides of each leaf. They look like tiny drops of dew. Insects such as gnats land on the leaves, get stuck and then digested by the plant. Their lives literally get sucked out of them!

 

My "Mr. Tentacles" was a hard worker trapping and digesting the entire gnat population in my office, as well as my colleagues' offices as I lent him out on a rotating basis. Sometimes this green and red plant would be covered with tiny brown bug carcasses over a weekends' time. The carcasses too, would quickly disappear.

 

Sundew leaf. author: Dohduhdah. Wikimedia Commons

 

 

It's very important to remember that you need to keep the soil for your carnivore very damp - many of them normally reside in boggy areas.

It's best to keep them indoors near a window because they need light, room temperature between 40 and 80 degree Fahrenheit is best.

 

Water them using distilled water,  de-mineralized water or rain water, NEVER water straight from the tap, because their soil needs to maintain a certain PH acidity.

They are also happiest when kept in a plastic terrarium (they often are sold in a narrow plastic box that acts as a terrarium), and may even produce little flowers once a year.

 

If you want to repot your growing carnivore,  use a mixture of mostly spagnum or peat moss with sand. For the exact proportions for your particular plant, please be sure to consult a book specializing in this topic.

 

Do Not feed them ground meat or any other food for that matter. If you REALLY want to feed them, you can give them dead ants or dead gnats.  Or just let them trap and digest the bugs.

 

And of course, keep out of reach of children and pets. Who knows what could happen...

 

A great book for further information:

 

Cheers,

Lissu

 

 

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