Lesson 12 – A Plant That Eats Insects

Share to Brightspace Continue with Brightspace

Read About a Plant That Eats Insects


Read the vocabulary terms to understand the reading better.

To absorb means to take in or soak up.

Energy is the ability to do work or to make something move or change in some way.

Nutrients are the things that plants or animals need to grow and to stay healthy.

Trigger hairs send a signal to the plant to quickly close the leaf trap when an insect lands inside a leaf.

A Plant That Eats Insects

Most plants make their own food in their leaves. To make food, they use light, air, water, and nutrients found in soil. If the soil does not contain enough nutrients, the plant cannot survive.

The Venus flytrap is a very interesting plant. It grows in soil that does not contain enough nutrients to help it survive. So how does a Venus flytrap get the nutrients it needs? It eats insects!

Be Careful—It Is a Trap!

The Venus flytrap has special leaves that are perfect for catching insects. Inside each leaf are trigger hairs. When an insect such as a fly lands inside a leaf, the insect touches the trigger hairs. The trigger hairs send a signal to the plant to quickly close the leaf trap.

It takes a lot of energy for the Venus flytrap to close a leaf trap. The plant does not want to waste energy by trapping tiny insects. It wants a nice, big meal! The leaf traps will not close unless the insect is big enough to contain lots of nutrients.

When the leaf trap closes, it crushes the insect and kills it. The trap stays closed for one to two weeks while the plant absorbs the nutrients in the insect. Then the trap opens again, ready to catch another insect. Each leaf trap can only catch an insect three or four times. After that, the trap will no longer work.

After eating an insect, the Venus flytrap is not in a hurry for its next meal. The Venus flytrap can go without a meal for one to two months, but will eat about once a week if it can.

To learn more about other plants that eat insects, watch the video by SciShow Kids on Youtube.

Now Show What You Know!

Complete some questions about the reading selection by clicking “Begin Questions” below.