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Cape Sundews Trap Bugs In A Sticky Situation | Deep Look

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Channel: Deep Look
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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Cape sundews are carnivorous plants that grow in bogs, where they don't have access to many nutrients. So they exude sweet, shimmering droplets from their tentacles to lure in unsuspecting insects. Once their prey is hopelessly stuck, they wrap it up and dissolve it for a tasty meal.

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DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.


If you have houseplants, most of the time there's not a lot of visible activity.

But then there are carnivorous plants, like sundews. They arent content to just sit still. Typically found in habitats where other plants usually cant thrive like bogs with nutrient-poor soil they often need to supplement their diet with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Carnivorous plants have developed a way to obtain these key nutrients from another source: insects.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

---+ Why must you use distilled water with carnivorous plants?

Many carnivorous plants have evolved carnivory in response to a substantial lack of nutrients in their native soils. As a result of living in nutrient-poor soils for so long, their root systems tend to be very sensitive to minerals. Its like if you stayed inside for months, then went out on a sunny day. Your skin is going to be extra-sensitive and could burn easily. We give them rainwater or distilled water that has these minerals removed.

---+ What happens to the exoskeletons of the insects after they finish digesting them?

Carnivorous plants can only digest soft tissues, and insect exoskeletons (made of out chitin and other proteins) are too tough and too nutrient-poor for them to digest. Exoskeletons are left behind after digestions and depending on the plant, can be washed away by rain, or simply just hang out on the leaf. Many carnivores can continue to catch insects even if there is an exoskeleton left behind as long as it doesnt impede the mechanical trapping mechanism.

---+ Do these plants have predators?
Yes! Traditional pests like grasshoppers, caterpillars, aphids, scale, mealybugs, etc. can chew holes in traps or weaken developing leaves. Many can avoid the traps themselves.

---+ The above answers were provided by David Fefferman of the Carnivorous Plant Resource. For more information:
Carnivorous Plant Resource

The Exploratorium: Electrified Plants Video

KQED: Predatory Plant: Lure of the Cobra Lily

---+ Shoutout!

Congratulations to the following five fans on our Deep Look Community Tab for first correctly identifying the sticky hairs on our sundews, called glandular trichomes, or glandular tentacles!

Ary Mailhos
Dylan Lawrence
spontaneous creativity
Carmella Papa

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#carnivorousplants #capesundew #deeplook

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