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What makes Venus flytraps appealing – and creepy at the same time – is they eat like carnivores, luring prey and then eating them. But what will happen if you deprive these plants of bugs? Will this kill the plant or can it survive without them? These are important matters and need to be addressed.
Venus flytraps will not starve even if they do not eat any insects. As long as the plant has access to sunlight and water they can use photosynthesis to create food and survive.
Will My Venus Flytrap Starve?
A common problem with Venus flytraps is we tend to overfeed them. Here it is the opposite: will under feeding or not giving it any bugs at all, cause starvation or death?
Venus flytraps consume insects to fuel its growth, but is not required for the plant to live. These plants however, do need sunlight and water to stay alive. Venus flytraps will survive without eating bugs but growth will slow significantly.
Venus flytraps use two kinds of fuel, one for growth and the other to stay alive. All plants need sunlight and water to stay alive. Plants use them for photosynthesis so they can create glucose, the substance which plants use to perform daily activities.
To grow, Venus flytraps require nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients. Because these plants grow in nutrient poor soil they eat insects, which are especially rich in nitrogen.
When Venus flytraps capture an insect like a spider, they produce enzymes to dissolve the bug. The plant consumes the soft parts and discards the rest.
The nutrients in the insect -nitrogen, potassium etc. – are turned into growth fuel. Glucose ensures the plant survives, while nutrients allows the plant to grow bigger traps.
So can Venus flytraps live without bugs? Yes, provided there is plenty of sunlight and water available. Venus flytraps do not feel hungry because they cannot feel the way animals do. Without any nutrients the plant will grow very slowly, but it will not die.
Venus flytraps that do not eat bugs will look fine, but they will have smaller traps. Since most of us want large traps, it makes sense to feed them though.
If your Venus flytrap is indoors or a terrarium, you can still supply them with nutrients from food sources like Tetra Pond kPO Vibrance. It is an excellent alternative to bugs and just as nutritious.
Venus flytraps will starve and die without light and water. They can live without nutrients and supplements from insects, but not photosynthesis. All plants rely on photosynthesis for food so their survival depends on it.
How Long Can Venus Flytraps Go Without Food?
Insects are not food for Venus flytraps, they are supplements. A Venus flytrap can last indefinitely without insects as long as they have access to sunlight and water.
When a Venus flytrap catches an insect and shuts its trap, we think it is “eating” the bug as food. But plants do not consume food the way animals do
Insect nutrients are analogous to vitamins and supplements. Humans eat food and take vitamins and supplements for growth and strength. Venus flytraps produce and digest glucose for food while insects are its vitamins.
If by food we refer to insects, then Venus flytraps can live without them. Its traps will be smaller and probably less vibrant, but the plant will live.
But if we are talking about glucose, then Venus flytraps will not last. If you deprive the flytrap of sun, air and water, it will die quickly.
Venus flytraps do not have digestive systems like mammals so they cannot eat the same way. What the plant does is spread glucose all over its cells so it can produce leaves, traps, flowers etc.
Insect nutrients serve a different purpose. They are used to stimulate growth of traps and make the plant stronger. It is similar to what supplements do for the human body. While supplements can make us healthier, we do not need it to live, and the same applies to Venus flytraps.
Of course most flytrap growers want their plant to have large traps, so you need to understand how to properly feed it.
Taking away bugs from a Venus flytrap will not kill it. But if you remove light, air and water you will be depriving it of food, which will cause death.
How Often Should I Feed Venus Flytraps?
Venus flytraps need to eat every 2-4 weeks. No feeding is required if the plant is dormant. Indoor Venus flytraps need to be fed by hand since they cannot catch as many insects if they were outdoors.
If your Venus flytrap is indoors and in the growing stage, make sure it gets enough sunlight and water. You can leave the plant on a sunny windowsill or use indoor grow lights. For water we recommend RPI 4L Distilled Water as it is 100% safe for plants.
Remember, plants create their own food through photosynthesis so insects should be considered nutritional supplements. Indoor Venus flytraps are not likely to catch many insects, so they are usually fed by hand. Feed only every 2-6 weeks and that will be enough.
You are not limited to insects. Venus flytraps will eat mealworms and other types of fish food. Whether you feed them fish food, insects, make certain the bits are small enough to fit in the trap.
- Do not give human food to Venus flytraps. At best the trap will refuse to digest it, and at worst the plant could get sick.
- Venus flytraps are carnivores but they cannot digest hamburgers and other types of human food. A typical trap is an inch long so it can handle only small amounts.
- Stick with insects that are small enough for the plant. Avoid butterflies, earthworms and other large winged insects.
- Do not feed it beetles, cockroaches or any insect with a very hard exoskeleton.
- Outdoor Venus flytraps will be fine on their own. Just leave the plant where it can receive lots of sunlight for glucose production. It will have no problems catching insects outdoors.
Leaving Venus flytraps outdoors is practical since the plant will have plenty of insects to catch. But if you prefer it indoors, you can chop off an insect into small bits and feed it, or you can buy freeze dried food for it.
How Long Do Venus Flytraps Stay Closed Without Food?
The trap of a Venus flytrap is designed for one thing: catch prey. There are hair sensors in each lobe and when a bug touches these twice, the trap shuts. The plant waits for two triggers to avoid false alarms.
A Venus flytrap will remain closed until it has digested its prey, which can take 5-12 days. The trap will reopen in 24 hours or less if the object is inedible.
When the trap closes it will consume the insect. This might take a few days or up to two weeks depending on its size and the health of the plant. Once the trap opens, the carcass is all that will remain, if any.
The trap only closes when the triggers are set off. If the plant cannot digest the object, it will reopen. This might take several hours or a few seconds, it depends on the object.
If the insect is too small, the plant will let it slip through its trap because it will not waste energy on bugs with little nutrition.
If the bug is too large, the trap will attempt to close. However it will only release its digestive fluids when the trap is completely shut. Otherwise it will remain half closed until it reopens.
You can “force” a Venus flytrap to close by poking its triggers. This is what growers do when they feed Venus flytraps other food. However it is not a good idea to forcibly open a trap especially if it is eating food.
Venus flytraps will not remain closed for long without food. If it does, it could be a sign the plant is sick. On the other hand, some flytraps refuse to close if it is not healthy.
Hopefully this article was able to clear up some confusion. By knowing why Venus flytraps eat bugs, you will have a better appreciation of why they do it, even if this is not necessary for their survival.
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.