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Thread: A Plant-Insect Paradise or Nightmare?

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    rakovsky's Avatar
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    Smile A Plant-Insect Paradise or Nightmare?

    Carnivorous plants began to interest me when I played Sim Earth.



    In the game, you oversaw the planet's evolution and the evolution of animal varieties from primitive forms into sentient, intelligent ones. Besides Mollusks, Mammals, and other kinds, there was a very unusual one - carniferns. There were perhaps a dozen or more varieties of carnivorous plants, and they were need because they were plants that were like animals. It turns out, that in the Sim Earth story they developed the ability to walk too, and were preceded by Venus Fly Traps. The player was able to evolve them too into sentient creatures and then into civilizations. Unlike the other creatures in the game, the player could not create them directly, but they would evolve and appear naturally on the screen when there were insects.

    Here is a display of basic animal types in the game, although there were other varieties:
    http://s62.photobucket.com/user/eric...?sort=6&page=1
    (The Carniferns are after the insects)

    Here is a display of a screen of the world with different types of carniferns and insects:


    *Moderator note: While this game may be considered "abandonware" technically and legally Maxis still holds the copyright for this software. I find no evidence that Maxis has designated this title as "freeware".
    Last edited by Not a Number; 08-29-2014 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Removed link to download site.

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    rakovsky's Avatar
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    cyclopse

    The game gave me a romantic image about carnivorous plants. It was neat to think about plants being intelligence and moving, because it is something animals do. In fact it turns out from studies that Venus Fly Traps have electric impulses that occur when their trigger hairs are touched, and this causes a reaction for the trap to close.

    They are also colorful and pretty. Plus, they grow in humid environments like swamps and bog, so they bring to mind jungle plants. Plus, there is something mythical about them, like in the fiction stories about man-eating plants.

    I imagined and day dreamed about having a terrarium or little world that would be a kind of carnivorous plant jungle paradise. It was neat to think about the insects being like the creatures in the Sim Earth game, happily interacting and exploring the plants. The idea of the insects going inside them was part of the interesting idea of their interaction. It would be brightly, day lit, with insects flying between towering plants like Sarracenia Rubra. And it would have a variety of plants like the Venus Fly Trap, which moves.

    And speaking of towering pitcher plants, I am amazed how tall these Sarracenias at California Carnivores are. I don't know that I have ever seen pictures of Sarracenias that tall before:


    I thought about keeping the insects together with the plants, like how people keep ant farms. It's an inventive idea, since usually people keep the plants and insects they raise separate. So, I read about insects and spiders, and got a book on identifying them. It turns out that ants, bees, and wasps are the most intelligent insects. While people can catch bees and slow them down enough in a freezer to make them manageable enough to put them in a terrarium- as I did a few times, their stingers were enough of a downside to make me choose ants for my terrarium. And ants can be neat, especially when one thinks about how they fight mini battles, trace their food over long distances, and have complex colonies.

    And when I got one of the common, pre-packaged Venus Fly Traps and put it outside my front door with the plastic lid off so it could catch the insects, it was neat to see. It is still neat to think about, especially if insects could naturally crawl up the sides of the pot into it.

    Insects can be a nuisance, and I don't have a real issue with people - or of course animals or plants, eating them. It's like eating a black speck. In fact, I saw a TV show where the narrator went to Africa and filmed people making ant dishes. In the course of hunting at the ant hills, some people even picked up the ants and ate them directly.

    I don't like spiders- they are gross with their fangs, venom, and eight legs, and some kinds even kill people. Mosquitos are bad too because they carry germs and hunt for people and animals to bite. Killing biting mosquitos is like a small success, because it means less to worry about. I wonder if they get trapped in carnivorous plants very often, since the plants use nectar, while mosquitos don't eat that.
    Last edited by rakovsky; 08-29-2014 at 03:34 PM.

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    rakovsky's Avatar
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    I live in Pennsylvania, so I researched which plants grow in my state. Then I got a glass candy jar about a foot in height and added two small, bright green, red-veined Sarracenia purpurea plants, perhaps a sundew or two, and a Venus Fly Trap. Of course, Venus Fly traps aren't native to Pennsylvania, but they are too neat to pass up. I put them in peat moss, used plastic wrap for a lid, and put them in a room sunlit from two or three sides.

    Then I added about ten large black carpenter ants, which live around and - fortunately more often - outside my house. They made tunnels in the peat like a neat miniature ant colony. Then individually they explored, went up the sides of a Sarracenia pitcher, licked the rim, and fell in one by one, swimming chaotically and drowning. The bodies piled up so high that new ants stepped on the dead ones' heads before sinking in. Then they piled up enough that the new ants stood on the dead ones' heads to climb out, and then returned again. It was gross.

    I was alone at home and fell asleep on the floor. In my dream, I had human-sized ant friends that happily and excitedly told me to come in the green, inflatable pool with them in my dark basement. They were already in the pool and were dead.



    After that, I rarely put creatures in my carnivorous plant terrarium.

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    rakovsky's Avatar
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    cyclopse

    At this point, I still have a carnivorous plant terrarium that I like to show friends and visitors, although I keep the top on - primarily to keep moisture inside.

    I think carnivorous plants are neat, and I had fun putting spiders in them.

    But it also seems gross and morally troubling. When I first began reading books on carnivorous plants, I read one that was a poem about an "ant warrior", describing how it was adventuring in to the pitcher plant. In reality, the ant was not a warrior, it just had a gross death. Thinking about the creatures' death process is gross, whether it is drowning or being stuck with glue or digested with the Venus flytrap. Even the corkscrew traps can be unpleasant because they passively force things to move deeper into the trap.

    When I say that it seems like there could be a moral issue, part of it could be that killing animals and eating them is cruel. There was a well-written short story, A Day No Pigs Would Die, which was indirectly about Vegetarianism, that I read as a child and liked. It was a bit like Charlotte's Web. Granted, I understand that the plants are being predators in the wildness of nature, and that insects are like specks.

    But the other side is that as the gardener I would be arranging it. I am not sure how wrong it is to stomp on a pile of ants for fun, but it seems unhealthy, even though stomping on them is probably one of the nicest ways to kill them. Abusing tiny animals seems to be psychologically unhealthy. There seems to be a dark side about carnivorous plants, that is reflected in the humor about them, like the play "Little Shop of Horrors". Anyway, those are my musings on the topic. I am interested in hearing what others think.
    Last edited by rakovsky; 08-30-2014 at 02:18 AM.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Welcome to TF! I lived in the Reading area for 5 years.

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    Enthusiastic Enthusiast Zath's Avatar
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    Too bad you don't like spiders. I probably would've recommended a tarantula as a tank-mate for a planted cp terrarium. They're large enough not to get caught themselves, but harmless enough not to harm any plants. Just give them enough crickets to share. :P

    At any rate, welcome to the forums.

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    Confused Magikarp fdfederation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    They were already in the pool and were dead.
    I'm a terrible person for finding humor in this.

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    rakovsky's Avatar
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    Hello, Jim.
    It can be surprising how common the smaller carnivorous plants are in Pennsylvania. There is a series of lakes in the mountains near Pottsville, about 20 minutes from my home, and as I was canoeing there, I noticed bladderworts. Had I not known about them, I would have thought that they were just floating weeds. Also, there is a state park with state forest lands by it about 50 minutes north of me. Since I was interested, I drove along a dirt road until I saw a swampy area, where I went in and found a lot of Rotundifolia Sundews. I am not sure if Intermedia were among them, or if the ones I thought were Intermedia were just a slightly more narrow version of Rotundifolia.
    Last edited by rakovsky; 08-30-2014 at 11:01 AM.

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