Does anybody here actually try to help feed their carniverous plants insects? My house, due to the ongoing efforts of my loving wife, is pretty much a bug free zone. I have also noticed that none of the so-called carniverous plants that I own are actually any good at hunting (sort of like my brother's bumper sticker: Vegetarian: Old Indian word for "bad hunter") In fact, they're horribly lazy and I have yet to see them stalk a single thing. This leaves me to wonder, are there some amongst these that are actually vegan?
I feed small soft bodied bugs to my Sundew (Drosera) plants. They seem to appreciate it (translation: they have not died as a result of the action LOL). The limited knowledge I have of these critters is they are sit and wait predators. The digested insect nutrients are a dietary supplement for the CPs.
When I brought home my first sundew, I watched in amazement as a couple of fungus gnats flew from across the apartment (the grow area) to where I had the sundew (table at the other end of the apartment) and provided the plant with a couple of meals. Wow.
Wingless fruit flies? I've never tried feeding them myself.
Yes, CPs are a lot like bullfrogs... they are sit and wait. I generally try to avoid "supplementing" their diets in favor of letting my plants catch their own. I've been known to move plants to locations that have better vantage points and I have also been known to buy a mushy banana now and then to be able to let it rot near my pings ;) I've also added supplemental light inside my home and opened up the window at night to let the bugs come to the light. What's really neat about this is that the screen "filters" out all the larger bugs andyou end up with practically perfect portion sizes for many of the smaller CPs. You have to be standing right there to close the window after you feel you have let enough bugs in though or you will be inundated. That's not cheating is it? There's a lot of really interesting research in this area.
Tee he, look up Drosophila hydei. For those with discerning tastes, they've even got wingless out there... Drosophila melanogaster. Have fun BugMan.
And yes, they are easy to culture.
Wanna know another way to catch some really nice bugs for your plants? Take the skimmer net off the pole. Get in your car and drive really slow holding the skimmer out the window steering with your right hand. After you get home, tap it over the top of your plants and voila! Instant foliar feeding!
Gerris2 - here in VA both PetCo & PetSmart carry wingless fruit fly cultures in the fish/reptile section. If they have them in stock they'll be in the refrigerator where they keep the mealworms & stuff.
They come in a small plastic cup with some "goop" in it & complete instructions on how to keep it going.
I recently obtained 2 Drosera madagascarensis plants through eBay, and they are enjoying their new home here...they are absolutely slaying the fungus gnat population in the sunroom. I need to get some more of these guys!
andidandi, I'm thinking your plant is too small. It will be ok. They don't need to be fed regularly to survive or thrive so forgo the flightless fruitflies for now as they'd probably be too small anyway. Give your VFT some time to grow and mature. As it does, the traps will become larger. There are actually little trigger hairs inside the trap and sometimes insects don't trigger them and then the trap doesn't close. As a general rule, whatever your flytrap catches on its own will be just perfectly bite size. Exception being Daddy Long-Legs or Crane Flies or anything leggy like that and then the legs stick out. If you must feed your VFT, stick to maybe a meal worm or a tiny pin head. Earth worms and slugs will probaby rot the trap you feed and that places your plant at risk of ceasing to exist.
Actually - I'd nix the mealworm as well. They can easily eat thru a trap long before they're digested. In fact, they can easiily eat thru the stomach wall of small lizards & frogs before they're digested too. Unless in the white/just molted stage, mealworms really aren't a terrific food choice.
Yaa, you might have a valid point there. I've not seen them do this but my traps are decent sized and his might be immature right now. Try a pillbug. Nobody seems to have any problems with those and they certainly are tiny enough.
Nope. Pillbugs that we find under logs and pieces of slate are what we have dropped in the traps from time to time just to do it. We don't have Sowbugs around here or if we do, they're not coming in areas where they'd be easy to grab. Pillbugs are crustaceans but are more closely related to shrimp rather than to centipedes. Their outer armor isn't all that tough like a crab or a lobster. Once the pillbug is digested, the trap reopens and we do see the outer shell left which we just blow on and that seems to be enough to dislodge it. When one of the boys is in the mood to feed a VFT, we have been using meal worms because we can buy those over at PetSmart and keep them in the frig here. Mealworms don't move all that fast but they do wiggle around so they will set off the trigger hairs so the trap closes. The only critter I have ever had chewing on VFTs over here was a slug and I made short work of him. I have about 20 maybe 30 VFTs here and haven't had anything chew through a VFT trap yet. My plants are all grown outside year round so as a rule of thumb, they are considerably healthier than those that are grown indoors and their diet consists of many different species.
We pretty much only use the flightless fruit flies for small Nep pitchers but have on occassion dropped them on Pinguicula leaves. We insert them live into a pitcher with a tweezers and this is no easy task when one is partially blind. The pin head crickets we have used for slightly larger Nep pitchers.
Now I do have a few wasps and hornets that chew out of my Sarracenia tubes from time to time. They leave a nice sized exit hole when they are successful. I have a photo here of one that almost made it out. Almost. He got stuck half in and half out before he died but I left him because he made a nice plug.
Other than that, I've found tree frog remains in the tubes of my Sarracenia. If I see treefrogs around the pitcher plants I relocate them. Not that they wouldn't be digested but treefrogs are on the decline around here.
Over all, I would say that all insects and arachnids (basically all anthropods save some crustaceans) can be used safely to feed any VFT but watch out for size. Too big is not good. My experience is such that the prey should be about 1/5th the size of the trap. Not too small and not too large but just right.
Here's a funny story. Not too many females are into carnivorous plants. I have one young cyber friend who is a struggling college student who is female and into them so she grows quite a few. She uses cockroaches from her apartment to feed her carnivorous plants. On nights that she stays up late, she sits in her kitchen and nabs them under a drinking glass as they scurry across her counter top. She names each one after Professors that gave her marginal grades, people who weren't nice to her, and boyfriends that have dumped her before she feeds them to one of her babies.