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Do some plants eat insects?

Insect-eating plants have always fascinated botanists. These plants cannot prepare their own protein; therefore they obtain it by eating insects and worms. These plants are called insectivorous plants. Every plant of this kind has its own unique technique of capturing insects. The leaves of these specialised plants are adapted to trap and digest insects — which supplement their food supply. One of the most well-known insectivorous plants is the ‘pitcher plant‘. The upper part of its leaf resembles a small pitcher. The colour of this plant is very attractive and it contains a sticky liquid. The opening of the pitcher has small fibres, which allow the insect to go inside but obstruct its coming out. On being attracted by the beautiful colour, when some insect enters this pitcher, it is unable to come out. It gets entangled in the juice of the pitcher. Then, the plant produces certain enzymes and digests it. The ‘cobra plant‘ of America, which appears like a snake, also eats insects. It also has a pitcher-shaped mouth. Another plant, which feeds on insects, is the ‘sundew plant’. The sundew plants have hair on their leaves. The tips of these hair have droplets of a liquid, which appear very attractive. As soon as some insect is attracted towards the leaf, the hair bends forward, captures the insect and digests it with the help of their own juice. The digested flesh is absorbed through their leaves. After that, the hair returns to normal. There is a plant called ‘Venus fly trap‘ which is found in America. Its leaves have beautiful red-coloured elevations on both sides. Whenever an insect sits on a leaf, it closes like a fork and the plant digests the trapped insect by digestive juices. The ‘uticularia‘ is a water plant. It is found all over the world. The roots of this plant that are submerged in water have bulbous bladders. When some aquatic insect enters the bladder, the hair on its opening do not allow it to come out. The walls of these bladders give out a digestive juice, which suck the proteins out of the bodies of the insect. Similarly, a plant called ‘Indian pipe‘ is found in the hills of Shimla. It also eats insects. In addition to these, there are many other insectivorous plants all over the world.

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