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Venus flytraps are great for getting rid of that pesky housefly, but what about mosquitoes? They can be an even bigger nuisance than flies, so can we count on Venus flytraps to give us a hand? This is a frequently raised topic and we will answer that here.
Venus flytraps eat mosquitoes because it is a rich source of nitrogen and other nutrients. But these plants are not effective repellents because mosquitoes are so small they can sometimes escape the trap.
Can Venus Flytraps Eat Mosquitoes?
Venus flytraps consume mosquitoes, flies, gnats and other insects to boost their nitrogen level. Catching mosquitoes is a little harder though due to their size, but some Venus flytraps have developed mini traps to handle this.
When a Venus flytrap catches a prey – whether it is a mosquito or something else – the trap will not fully closed, at least at first. The plant will determine if the bug is worth the effort of digesting.
Suppose a Venus flytrap catches a mosquito. The insect will move about frantically to attempt to escape. If it is small enough, it might get through the trap. Or it is too small it fails to set the sensors off again, which is needed before a Venus flytrap closes its trap tightly.
Either the mosquito escapes or the trap will open to let it go, because Venus flytraps will not waste energy trying to catch an insect that does not offer much nutritional value in return.
But if the trap catches a large mosquito, its movements in the trap will set off the hair sensors repeatedly. This indicates to the plant that this is a large insect with plenty of nitrogen.
Once this is confirmed, the trap will squeeze tighter the more the mosquito thrashes about. Once the insect is fully secured, the trap secretes enzymes to digest it.
These enzymes dissolve the insect so the plant can consume it. Special fluids are also released to keep the mosquito from rotting too quickly.
The plant absorbs not just the insects but also the digestive enzymes it released. Once the insect is eaten, it is turned into nutrients to help the Venus flytrap flourish.
How Venus Flytraps Attract Mosquitoes
Venus flytraps do not eat everything, only those that can provide it sustenance. Flies, gnats, spiders and mosquitoes possess nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements carnivorous plants require to grow.
The trap lobes of a Venus flytrap have 3-4 trigger hairs. When a mosquito makes contact with the hair, sensory cells in the filaments send an electrical signal to the plant. If the insect touches the hair again the trap shuts down quickly.
There are two things a Venus flytrap has to do to catch mosquitoes: lure it into the trap and make sure it does not escape.
The trap or mouth produces nectar to entice insects. Other animals are drawn by the color, but once the insect is there and steps on the trigger hairs, signals are transmitted that prepare the plant for possible action.
The insect has to touch the hair triggers twice before the trap closes. This is necessary, otherwise the trap will shut whenever a rock or inedible object lands on the lobes.
It takes a lot of effort to lure prey, catch and digest it. If the trap were to shut every time an object touches the hair triggers, the plant will run out of energy. By waiting for confirmation, the plant is able to conserve resources.
By touching the sensors twice, this signals to the Venus flytrap that the object is alive. The trap quickly shuts to trap the insect.
Venus flytraps use the same methods to catch all kinds of insects. It starts with luring them into the trap and waiting for two sensory triggers.
Venus flytraps cannot see, but they are able to detect what is happening in the trap. This is critical for their growth because in nature, the soil they grow in lacks these nutrients.
Are Venus Flytraps Effective Mosquito Repellents?
Venus flytraps are not the best mosquito repellents for two reasons. One, the insect is small enough to get out of the trap, and it takes the plant up to two weeks to digest one inset.
Most traps require an insect weighing 10mg to trigger the hair. Small mosquitoes might only weigh 3mg so it is too small to stimulate the trap.
Even if the trap does close, if the insect is small enough it might be able to get away. And in some cases that is exactly what happens. The mosquito is able to fly off when it senses the trap.
Some Venus flytraps have developed mini traps to catch smaller insects. As the name suggests these traps are smaller and more sensitive. So even the slightest touch of a mosquito will alert the plant of a possible prey.
However all this depends on the Venus flytrap variant. Some of them grow mini traps, while other have regular traps only. Some have a combination of both so it depends on what you have. The care and nutrients the plant receives also affect the trap size.
And as has been explained, it can take up to two weeks for a Venus flytrap to digest a bug. And rarely will you see all traps catch bugs at the same time.
For these reasons you should not depend on Venus flytraps to solve your mosquito problem. The best way to get rid of mosquitoes is to use an insect spray as this is designed specifically to deal with these pests. If you don’t like insecticides, you can try Thermacell Mosquito Repellent instead.
If you only want to get rid of a few mosquitoes however, carnivorous plants can help. You will need several Venus flytraps along with pitcher plants, sundews and butterworts, and together they should be able to keep those insects at bay.
Should I Feed Mosquitoes to My Venus Flytrap?
You can feed dead mosquitoes to Venus flytraps since as they nourish the plant with nitrogen and other nutrients. However, it is easier to feed the traps other insects.
For starters, you can easily buy freeze dried mealworms for Venus flytraps. You can even give them fish food like flakes and chips, provided they are small enough to fit in the trap. You can even give Venus flytraps cockroaches if you cut it into small bits.
You will have a hard time finding freeze dried mosquitoes in any store. And everyone knows how difficult it is to kill a mosquito, let alone a dead one and give it to a Venus flytrap. It just is not practical.
If you do catch some dead mosquitoes, you have to stimulate the trap to make the plant eat them. Put a mosquito in the trap and then use a stick to stimulate the lobes. Do this softly and the trap will close over the insect.
While mosquitoes have the nutrients Venus flytraps need, they are also available in other insects and animals like caterpillars, slugs, bloodworms and crickets. It is easier to get your hands on something like Sera Catfish Chips and feed them to the traps.
If you really want to give mosquitoes to your Venus flytrap, place it outdoors. There the plant can have its fill of those plus ants, arachnids, fruit flies etc. The plant can take care of itself there.
If your Venus flytrap is outdoors, you do not have to provide nutrients unless the place is totally devoid of insects. Just make sure the plant gets 6-12 hours of sunlight. Keep the soil damp but not too wet to avoid attracting gnat larvae.
There are easier ways to feed a Venus flytrap instead of using dead mosquitoes. And it can be done if you are patient enough.
Because Venus flytraps consume a lot of different insects, it has gained a reputation as being an insect repellent. But the fact is there are other ways to deal with mosquitoes, flies, gnats and other pests. While carnivorous plants can catch the occasional mosquito, think of it as a nutrient source than a means to eliminate these pests.