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Wasps can sting humans and it will hurt, but what about Venus flytraps? If one of the traps catches a wasp, should you be concerned for the plant? In this guide we will go over the facts on whether you should be worried about your plant or not.
Venus flytraps eat wasps because they are rich in nitrogen, protein and other nutrients. These insects are not a threat and actually provide Venus flytraps with the energy it needs to stay healthy and grow bigger traps.
Are Wasps Safe for Venus Flytraps?
Wasps look deadly and if you get stung it can hurt. But what applies to humans does not apply to Venus flytraps, so you don’t have to be concerned.
Venus flytraps can eat wasps because they pose no danger. Larger creatures like caterpillars and cockroaches are a greater risk because they can chew their way out of the trap.
Wasp size ranges from 1/4 to 1 inch so they fit well inside the trap. If the bug is small enough to fit, the trap can hold and digest it. Problems only arise when a prey is too large and parts of it are left out.
If an earthworm lands in the trap for instance, its head and lower body might stick out of the trap while the rest of its body is caught. The plant digests the trapped parts but the rest will rot away. This can produce a foul odor that will not go away unless you remove it.
With wasps this is not going to happen. Their size is just right for the trap so no body part will be left out. Most traps are 1 to 1.5 inches long, but larger Venus flytraps like the B52 produce 2 inch traps.
Even if you have regular sized Venus flytraps, you can rest easy knowing the plant is safe. A trapped wasp will struggle but it will not harm the trap or the plant.
The only exception is if the plant is already sick. In that case it will have trouble handling the wasp or any bug for that matter. A sickly Venus flytrap probably will not even close its traps.
But assuming your Venus flytrap is healthy, wasps are no problem .So if your plant catches some of these bugs outdoors (or indoors), consider your plant lucky as wasps are rich in nutrients.
Why Do Venus Flytraps Eat Wasps?
One of the most common misconceptions about Venus flytraps is they need to eat wasps and other bugs to survive. That is not true.
Even though Venus flytraps are not conscious, they can create their own food. Through photosynthesis, plants produce glucose, a substance that provides nourishment essential for their survival.
So if Venus flytraps do not need to eat insects, why do they do it? Because wasps provide additional nutrients that cannot be found in the soil.
Venus flytraps only flourish in nutrient poor soil. Rich, fertilized grounds like cactus soil is harmful, so these plants get nutrients from insects. Venus flytraps are sold with nutrition free potting media, but you can buy one too such as Leaves and Soil Mix.
Wasps in particular are rich in protein, nitrogen and other elements. While not necessary for their survival, these nutrients supply Venus flytraps with the resources to stay healthy.
A healthy Venus flytrap can produce flowers and larger traps. Their colors become more vibrant and are more responsive to approaching prey.
The nutrients in insects cannot be replaced by rich soil. Doing so will kill the plant. Will Venus flytraps live without eating bugs? Yes, but growth will slow to a crawl and they will have very small traps.
So wasps are good for Venus flytraps, but what if the plant is indoors? Well you can always give it dead wasps or freeze dried mealworms including the Omega 3 5 Pack. These are filled with nitrogen and other nutrients to help the plant grow.
Venus flytraps developed traps to absorb nitrogen. But this requires nutrients that can only be found in wasps and other bugs. So the more insects captured and digested, the healthier the traps.
In other words, wasps and other insects are not must have foods for Venus flytraps. But if you want to see healthy, reddish Venus flytraps, then you have to provide them access to these nutrients.
What Happens When a Wasp is Digested?
Venus flytraps use a complex process to digest wasps and other prey. It consists of three phases: luring the prey, trapping and then digesting it.
Because Venus flytraps cannot chase prey, they lure them instead. Their traps produce nectar which gives off a scent that attracts bugs. Wasps, gnats, ants and other insects will be drawn to this.
Each trap contains hairs, triggers that alert the plant of the presence of prey. If a wasp touches the hair twice, the trap closes instantly.
The trap will shut tighter the more the bug tries to escape. Because of its size, chances of escaping are very low. Once the prey is secure, the plant releases antiseptic fluid to prevent the bug from decomposing too quickly.
Enzymes will then liquefy the wasp, allowing the plant to absorb nitrogen, potassium etc. This will only happen if the bug has been dissolved, which can take up to 12 days or more.
The trap remains closed for as long as it is digesting prey. Once the bug has been consumed, the trap opens up. Only traces of digestive fluids and some inedible parts remain.
Because Venus flytraps can take one to two weeks to eat a bug, they only consume 3-5 a month. Only one trap has to eat and that is sufficient to satisfy its needs. Far more important for the plant are light, water and air.
Sometimes you will see outdoor Venus flytraps with two traps closed. While this can happen it is rare. If you are feeding the plant indoors, it is acceptable to give just one trap every two weeks.
Can Venus Flytraps Eat Dead or Frozen Wasps?
If your Venus flytraps is outdoors, it will have no problems finding bugs to feed on. You do not have to worry about how many it consumes either.
Indoor Venus flytraps have limited access to insects however. They will catch a fly or two every now and then, but live wasps are rare. Is there an alternative?
Venus flytraps can eat dead bugs if they are small enough. You just need to place the insect in the trap and tap the triggers to make it close. When the trap shuts, digestion will begin.
Even dead wasps contain nutrients so it does not make a difference for Venus flytraps. However you need to give the plant a hand so to speak, because it needs stimuli to begin digesting.
As we explained earlier, Venus flytraps will only shut if the triggers are set off two times in 30 seconds. This indicates to the plant that the object in its trap is alive and not a leaf, rock or something it cannot eat.
A dead wasp cannot trigger the sensors, so something else must set it off. Once you place the dead insect in the trap, tap the hair filaments twice. A chopstick will do nicely, but be gentle. It does not take a lot to stimulate the trap.
You can do this with dead spiders, crickets, moths and other insects. Whatever bug you feed, make sure it is no more than 2/3 or 1/3 the size of the trap.
Size is not an issue with wasps, but with cockroaches it is. You have to slice the bugs into tiny chunks and grind the hard shell so the enzymes can dissolve it.
And if you do not want to mess around with dead wasps or any dead bug, you can always get some freeze dried food and they will work just as well.
The bottom line is that wasps will not harm Venus flytraps. They are a rich source of nutrients so if you see one of these in the trap, your plant is actually lucky because they contain a lot of essential supplements.
My fascination with carnivorous plants began many, many years ago with Venus Fly Traps. Now I am more than happy to impart what I know with other enthusiasts and those who are curious about meat eating plants.