Eating insects makes good evolutionary sense for plants living in barren soil with few nutrients. But how do the plants avoid eating the insect pollinators they rely on to reproduce?
By Yao-Hua Law
Grubs gnaw roots, maggots munch fruits and caterpillars chew leaves. In textbook food chains, animals eat plants, not the other way round.
But there are plant species that break this rule – at least 600 species of them on the last count. These are the carnivorous plants, and they routinely feast on insects, spiders, worms – even potentially small mammals.
Life for a carnivorous plant is challenging. They cannot very well march across the landscape in search of a meal. Dinner has to come to them. The plants have evolved sticky leaves, water pots and the like to catch animals, but how – if at all – do they lure their prey into these traps? Read more.