Wednesday, January 4, 2012

nature journal: venus flytrap

my father is a walking field guide of north america.  his knowledge of the great outdoors always amazed me as a child.  he knew something about everything green and growing and beautiful.  it amazes me still.  and he acquired this knowledge from life.experiences.  he only ever uses the computer to read my blog.  i think he's used google once and that was with my sister's assistance.  he just knows things.  his knowledge is true too.  why once i mentioned to a friend of mine who happened to be a doctoral student in environmental sciences at duke university that crawdads lived in little holes in our front yard in florida.  he informed me this couldn't be because crayfish have gills.  i, of course, pursued the matter in the duke university library.  i couldn't deal with the thought that my dad might be wrong.  he wasn't.  i found pictures there of exactly what my father knew.

sometimes i think g thinks i must know everything.  he asks me questions all the time.  then he spouts my words as fact to all who will listen.  it's humbling.  it bothers me that i tell him "i don't know" way too often on our walks.  my boy craves knowledge about living things.  it's in his blood.  i've decided that once a week this year i'm going to use my google powers and find him some answers.  we'll be compiling a little nature journal right here on the blog.  i hope you enjoy our "walks" and what we learn from them as much as we do.

venus flytrap
dionaea muscipula
native only to boggy areas in north and south carolina

the closing mechanism - they have tiny hairs called triggers inside the traps.  when these are touched the leaves snap shut.  they don't close all the way immediately as they want to give smaller less meaty bugs the chance to escape.  they also can't handle bugs that are too bug.  with the right sized bug the trap snaps shut to create an airtight seal.  then the flytrap will begin to secrete digestive juices to break down the bug innerds and its very own sanitizer to keep the bug fresh and clean while it's being eaten.  scientists are not quite certain how the plant moves.  the theory is that the plant produces a bit of an electrical current that causes an internal fluid pressure system to start working.  it's nice that there are still some mysteries in life, isn't it?

caring for the venus flytrap:
  • they need to live in terrariums so their air is nice and moist.  we need to put ours back in the plastic container it came in until we can get a terrarium for it.
  • water them with untreated water.  we are giving ours a couple tablespoons of fishtank water each day.
  • they grow in a combination of sand and sphagnum moss and should be transplanted every few years.
  • aunt theresa said she had one as a kid and gave it hamburger meat.  this is a big no no and explains why our trap never closed around the meat.  only bugs please!  and if the bugs are deadish you should wiggle them around a bit to trigger the closing mechanism.
  • they like to be warm and sunny, but watch carefully for wilting!
  • the little plants eat about two houseflies or tiny slugs per month.
  • they are somewhat dormant from thanksgiving to valentine's day and need less bugs and sun during this time.
for more information:


  1. so interesting! it sounds like your dad is a wonderful person. i look forward to the next nature post!

  2. this post makes me feel like we're long lost relatives! Oh G! What a wonderful momma you have!