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The Venus flytrap is able to count to five


Posted on Sunday, 24 January, 2016 | Comment icon 17 comments

The Venus flytrap obtains nutrients from the insects it catches. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Mokkie
The secret behind the carnivorous plant's success is its ability to count how many times it is touched.
One of the most unusual yet recognizable plants on Earth - the Venus flytrap is a bizarre-looking specimen with a set of traps capable of ensnaring any insect that happens to wander in to them.

Exactly how the plant decides when to close one of its trap and begin digesting what's inside has remained a topic of debate for years, but now scientists conducting a new study believe that the secret to the plant's success lies in its rather remarkable ability to count.

Snapping one of its traps shut and initiating the production of digestive enzymes takes up a lot of energy and is something the plant can ill-afford unless it is sure it is getting a meal out of it.

To avoid closing its trap unnecessarily, the plant keeps track of the number of times that it feels something brushing against the trigger hairs inside its trap before deciding to proceed.

The first time it detects something the plant doesn't actually react at all other than to trigger an increased awareness that a tasty morsel may have wandered in. It's not until it feels something brush up against the trigger hairs a second time that the trap actually shuts.

Subsequent detections prompt the plant to begin digesting whatever it is has caught inside.

What makes this process particularly interesting is the fact that the plant is even able to determine how large or nutritious the caught insect might be and produces the correct amount of digestive enzymes to get the job done as efficiently as possible.


Source: Christian Science Monitor | Comments (17)

Tags: Venus Flytap

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sundew on 24 January, 2016, 21:14
Been growing Flytraps for decades, they are quite easy if you follow a few parameters. Rather amazing how they function. They are quite common in cultivation and are even produced by the tens of thousands through tissue culture techniques. Sadly they are increasingly rare in their only known native habitat, in and around Wilmington, N.C. and the adjacent area in S.C. due to "flytrappers," people who dig and sell wild collected specimens. It is now a felony to collect them from the wild, I believe, so that will help. But the area has also had several drought years and these are bog plants that ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by bubblykiss on 25 January, 2016, 2:32
So without having read the article, I need to know, do Venus Flytraps have a preset kill limit? Can they be defeated by throwing wave after wave of insect minions at them or not?
Comment icon #10 Posted by coolguy on 25 January, 2016, 3:51
I had these when i was a kid i use to feed them chop meat lol
Comment icon #11 Posted by qxcontinuum on 25 January, 2016, 6:12
horrible . we live on a planet where life kills other lives to survive. How disgusting this planet is! First time in my life i felt sorry for the flies. They just wanted to enjoy more their lives.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 25 January, 2016, 12:50
horrible . we live on a planet where life kills other lives to survive. How disgusting this planet is! First time in my life i felt sorry for the flies. They just wanted to enjoy more their lives. If you are really that oblivious to the beauty of nature, to the intricacies of the circle of life, if you really are devoid of a sense of wonder at these things then I truly pity you.
Comment icon #13 Posted by AustinHinton on 25 January, 2016, 21:49
I have a question, as I am not a botanist: How do they dispose of the "leftovers"?
Comment icon #14 Posted by Sundew on 26 January, 2016, 0:55
I have a question, as I am not a botanist: How do they dispose of the "leftovers"? Wind or rain removes the hollow exoskeletons of the dead insects.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Sundew on 26 January, 2016, 0:59
So without having read the article, I need to know, do Venus Flytraps have a preset kill limit? Can they be defeated by throwing wave after wave of insect minions at them or not? In a way, the traps can only open and close so many times before they must be replaced that is why you should not tease them with you fingers or whatever, they have to grow to reopen and 2-4 times per trap is about the limit they can repeat the process, before the leaf dies and must be replace. They also function poorly in colder weather, but then so do the insects. There a much bigger carnivorous plants capable of ki... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by qxcontinuum on 26 January, 2016, 15:40
If you are really that oblivious to the beauty of nature, to the intricacies of the circle of life, if you really are devoid of a sense of wonder at these things then I truly pity you. well then , it is a wild beauty and it appears what is beautiful and intricate for others like us, it is a drama for all the creatures that get stuck in this type of beauty. It is their paint, their sorrow for never enjoying the sun light and beauty of life itself, again. I see it like the following; assuming an alien civillisation is watching us from the beginning of time, they suppose to enjoy the beauty of li... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by AustinHinton on 26 January, 2016, 19:35
Wind or rain removes the hollow exoskeletons of the dead insects. Ah, ok. Thanks.


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