Fine afternoon at the Nuangola Bog with Wilkes Biology Professor Ken Klemow, another professor and a senior biology student. Saw all kinds of stuff which will be used for an article in the Citizens’ Voice Sept. 2.
And the crowning jewel of the bog day: a rare carnivorous pitcher plant.
How Pitcher Plants Capture Prey
Pitcher plants resemble their name: they look like pitchers. Inside the elongated structure is a pool of water. Decaying insects that have been trapped inside, along with nectar from the “lid,” attract flies, beetles, butterflies and other insects to the plant. The plant’s flowers are the color of raw meat, which further serves to attract flies.
Once inside, many insects find it difficult to exit the structure, so they eventually drown in the liquid. The interior walls are waxy and slippery, and there are hairs toward the top that aid in keeping prey trapped. The plant’s enzymes digest the meal and the plant is then able to absorb the nutrients.
Pitcher Plants As Houseplants
While pitcher plants are popular houseplants, it is not a good idea to harvest them from the wild because some species have become extinct this way. Instead, obtain them through a nursery. They are best-suited to bog gardens and indoor terrariums, and they require sunlight and mildly acidic soil.
Some insects and animals live harmoniously with pitcher plants. Some predators, like spiders, use the lid to hide under, and some insect larvae, like mosquitoes, live inside the pitcher plant itself. Ants that die inside the plant are used for their decaying scent to attract other prey. Sometimes small frogs will hide in pitcher plants, eating flies that are attracted to the plant