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Thread: Famous insect-eating plant catches many spiders

  1. #1
    SirKristoff is a poopiehead Ozzy's Avatar
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    I found this article and thought everybody here would be interested.


    From the March 23, 1935, issue

    FAMOUS INSECT-EATING PLANT CATCHES MANY SPIDERS



    Venus' flytrap might with equal correctness be called a spider trap. This famous insect-catching plant, once called by Darwin "the most wonderful plant in the world," has been restudied recently by Prof. Robert F. Griggs of George Washington University. He discovered that the largest single class of animals among its victims consists of spiders. Examination of hundreds of its traplike, hinged leaves showed that spiders formed 28 percent of all its catch. Flies were a close second, with 24 percent.

    Other prey included beetles, ants, and roaches. There was one tiny toad, a scorpion, a couple of snails, and one daddy longlegs. In general, the plant's victims were mainly insects that fly little or not at all; there were few highly active fliers like bees and wasps.

    Prof. Griggs made an effort to find an answer to the old question of what use the plant's carnivorous tendencies are to it; for though it secretes a ferment like the gastric juice, it has never been proved that it uses the captured victim for food. He was not able, however, to arrive at any completely conclusive findings, for specimens grown in various types of soil, some fed and others kept without insects, all throve about equally.

    It is probable that the species once had a far greater range than its present restricted area of about a 100-mile radius of semiswampy coastal plain around the city of Wilmington, N.C. Its nearest existing relative is found in Europe. Two colonies of it were experimentally transplanted into bogs far to the north of its present habitat some years ago. One of these is in Maryland just outside the District of Columbia, the other in Virginia. Both colonies survived the severe winter of 1933-34, which was far colder than anything these plants have been called upon to endure for probably thousands of years.

    Prof. Griggs expressed the wish that people generally might abandon the rather awkward and unbeautiful name Venus' flytrap and adopt the more euphonious botanical name Dionaea for common use, as they have already englished such strictly scientific names as chrysanthemum, rhododendron, and gladiolus.

    One of Prof. Griggs' photographs, taken in the native haunts of Dionaea, is shown on the cover of this issue of the Science News Letter. It shows the hinged halves of a leaf as they slowly open, disclosing the empty shell of a luckless large fly that was not quick enough to escape the snap of their traplike action. Wind or a raindrop will clear away the victim's carcass, leaving the hungry leaves ready for another catch. In the meantime, two other empty leaves wait with deadly patience.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/...6/timeline.asp




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    'Prof. Griggs made an effort to find an answer to the old question of what use the plant's carnivorous tendencies are to it; for though it secretes a ferment like the gastric juice, it has never been proved that it uses the captured victim for food. He was not able, however, to arrive at any completely conclusive findings, for specimens grown in various types of soil, some fed and others kept without insects, all throve about equally."

    Vfts not using the captured insects as food? Oh, come on! Why else will it produce enzymes? If it just wanted to kill pests, my guess is that it would use toxins or just starve it. Zongyi
    What you want to do is illeagle here in Canada.
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    It's been one of dem days BigCarnivourKid's Avatar
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    Zongyi, I doubt they had the tests or eguipment we have today that would have allowed them to track the nutrients absorbed from the insects. They were still using vacuum tubes back then.
    ---Steve Allinger---

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    Oops, didn't check the date. Silly me [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif[/img] . Zongyi
    What you want to do is illeagle here in Canada.
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