Pests are a fact of life. They come with the territory – your home, that is. And while some pests can be dealt with using DIY traps or non-toxic pesticides, others are pretty hard to fight off on our own. It sounds crazy, but one effective way to deal with these buggers is to fight fire with fire and encourage carnivorous plants, such as the following 10 examples, to take up residence in our homes.
Why You Should Consider Adding Carnivorous Plants to Your Home
Avoid using Pesticide
Using synthetic chemicals to control pests pose a threat to human health and prove to be counter-productive. At worst, pesticides can actually create a new breed of superbugs, which are chemical-resistant and super hard to kill.
Protect your home
So, if pesticides are so harmful, how can we protect our homes? Well, carnivorous plants are definitely the plants you are looking for! They eat insects that are harmful to your beloved plants.
Using biological pest control is recommended by all experts, what could be better than adding these guys to your house? Some pests are dangerous, not only to your plants but also to your health. A home with a few flies is not the ideal environment to relax in!
What Kind of Pests Can They Get Rid Of
Along with the common housefly, carnivorous plants can also chew through and remove other pests that are a danger to your other more vulnerable indoor plants. Here are just three that are the most common:
Thrips are tiny green bugs that feed primarily on plant sap and cause damage to indoor plants and outdoor plants alike. These little guys damage any organic plant material they can find to feed on. Thrips attack by inserting their mouthparts into the leaves or stems of a plant and then suck up fluid.
They can also spread diseases from one plant to another, making them one of the worst pests that you can possibly have in your garden. Plus, they are really hard to find until it’s too late for the plants!
To find out more about these notorious creatures, see our article on how to manage and remove thrips!
Earwigs are mostly beneficial as they also eat other insects, but they can be harmful when they feed on vegetables and certain other plants, including mums, clematis and dahlias.
There is an old myth that they crawl into people’s ears and cause damage but don’t worry, these little guys are not that dangerous! Still, it is important that you protect your plants against earwigs.
3. Fungus gnats
Fungus gnats are small flies that infest soil, potting mix, and other sources of organic decomposition.
Their larvae mainly feed on organic matter in the soil, chew roots and can be a problem in greenhouses, nurseries, potted plants and interior plantscapes. They can be a nuisance if not detected immediately
6 Carnivorous Plants that Eat Bugs
1. Monkey cups (Nepenthes)
The monkey cup plant is one of the tropical pitcher plants and can be found in areas like Sumatra and Malaysia. They got the name because monkeys were seen drinking water from these carnivorous plants as their vines produce a leaf called a pitcher, which can hold about a litre of water. Their cups passively collect prey and digest it.
“How?” You may ask, well, just like many carnivorous plants, the insects are attracted to their pitchers due to nectar secretions and coloration of the pitcher. After falling into it, the insects are digested by the fluid at the bottom of the trap.
The pitcher plants take time to grow during their first few years and can take 5-10 years to mature. Once they are established, they will begin to vine and grow rapidly.
2. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
The Venus flytrap is really famous in pop culture as they have appeared in horror movies, such as Little Shop of Horrors or games like Plants vs Zombies. They are definitely a pest’s nightmare because of their rapid movement. Their lobes can snap shut in 0.1 seconds. The trap is then opened after a week of consuming its prey.
Venus fly traps can even tell the differences between live and non-living organisms to avoid wasting energy.
While there is only one species of Venus Flytrap, many varieties of these carnivorous plants live throughout the world. The Venus flytrap can reach a height of 4 to 5 inches in about two to four years.
3. Bladderworts (Utricularia spp.)
Bladderworts have the most ingenious trapping mechanism. With more than 220 known species, the plants are aquatic or terrestrial wetland plants and are found in lakes, streams, and waterlogged soils around the world.
The beauty of these plants is left to the beautiful almost Orchid-like flowers. The colors of the flowers range all over the spectrum – yellows, purples, reds, and whites.
For more information on how to grow them, click here
4. Sun Pitcher Plant (Heliamphora spp.)
The Sun Pitcher Plant is an exotic pitcher plant that grows among the clouds of South America. Their pitfall traps are solid hues of green, red, and dark purple. With the same tactics as other pitcher plants, they employ a pitfall trap with slick surfaces, sweet nectar trails and liquid to capture insects and prevent them from escaping.
Their length can range from 6 to 16 inches long, depending on the species. Among the pitcher plants, they are the most difficult to grow because precise temperatures and very high humidity levels must be maintained.
The plant grows very slowly. it takes 5 years until the juvenile plant produces its first adult pitcher, and it might be another 5 years before it produces its first flower!
5. Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica)
The Cobra lily pitcher plant species (also goes by the name of California pitcher plant) is native to North America and found in nutrient-poor boggy areas.
Like other interesting insectivorous plants, their hood secretes an attractive scent, which enchants naive prey to enter. Once inside, the pests cannot get back out and the plant secretes digestive enzymes to break down the pest matter. However, unlike other pitcher plants, they do not collect rainwater to trap and drown their prey.
If grown undercover, keep the carnivorous plant near entrances so it is in the coolest position. It will grow up to 75cm tall and prefers a sheltered position if grown outside.
6. Sundew (Drosera spp.)
Sundew plant got their name because it’s like they are covered in dew but they are actually tentacles tipped in nectar. We can tell the difference but bugs can’t and they get stuck because of the sticky secretion. Once that happens, the plant can just simply close to trap insects and dissolve the poor bugs to get nutrients.
Sundews of various types are native to every continent except Antarctica. A lot of them are found in temperate regions of Australia. The size of these carnivorous plants ranges from tiny like a penny or as large as small bushes.
Growing sundews from seed is a somewhat slow process, but it can be very rewarding. After a few months of germination, sundews can reach maturity much faster than most other carnivorous plants if fed. Many of the species can reach maturity in only 1 year or less.
How to Care for Carnivorous Plants in the Home
Some carnivorous plants like pitcher plants are surprisingly adaptable to the indoor environment. However, bear in mind that different plants require different needs and some are quite fussy!
All plants require enough light to survive, that’s why it’s important to place them in places that sunlight can easily get to.
Some require full sunlight and may need supplemental lighting year-round, while types that originate in the floor of the rainforest may need filtered light. If you aren’t sure, don’t worry. Carnivorous plant retailers are the experts so be sure to ask your sales agent when you make your purchase.
When growing these plants indoors, water is needed to keep the potting soil moist, but not soggy. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly after watering and never let the pot stand in water, as wet soil can cause the plant to rot.
Remember to avoid tap water if they contain chemicals. The plants can be greatly benefited from distilled water or rainwater.
Indoor carnivorous plants like the pitcher plant generally require warm temperatures between 65 and 80 F. (18-27 C.)
Their preference for mild temperatures makes them perfect for homes. Not so good for outside though unless you live in temperate regions.
Keep carnivorous plants cool in winter
Most carnivorous plants are temperate as opposed to tropical plants, so they need a cool spot in winter in order to rest – otherwise, they will become exhausted and die.
The easiest and most obvious way to feed carnivorous plants is to let them do what they’re designed for and that’s to catch bugs!
If they are grown indoors, buy fish flakes or crushed pellets for them as they are a great alternative to bugs.
Unlike typical plants, there’s no need to use fertilizer on your carnivorous plants – they get all the nutrients they need from the insects that they catch. Their botanic origins are often in areas where the soil lacks nutrients, so don’t be too stressed about getting them enough soil nutrients.
Pests that can affect carnivorous plants
Ironically, while they are able to keep some bugs in check, they can be damaged by some other types of pests too. Here is a list of some that could potentially harm your plant.
These guys are really difficult to see, but we can easily find them by looking at their webs. Some of the damage that they cause includes streaking, spotting and discolored leaves that may fall off the plant if not controlled.
Small numbers of greenfly do very little damage, but in larger concentrations, they can take so much sap from shoots that the young growth becomes distorted, flowers and fruit may be damaged or even abort, and conifers shed their needles.
Deadhead carnivorous plants
Don’t worry about this. Just cut off dead flowers with scissors. During Autumn and Winter, if you can see black venus flytrap traps, simply remove them as soon as they turn black.
For advice on pest control, see our thrips on plants article.
Carnivorous Plants FAQs
What is the most effective carnivorous plant?
Sundews are one of the best carnivorous plants to reduce pests. Their prey-catching mechanism is really effective and can keep your home and other plants safe in no time!
What is the easiest carnivorous plant to grow?
Again, the answer is Sundew.
Drosera capensis (Cape sundew) is easily the best carnivorous plant for a beginner. It grows large and fast, and the leaves move dramatically when the plant is fed.
Which is the deadliest carnivorous plant?
Of all the interesting carnivorous plants, it must be the meanest, most classic Venus flytrap! These guys, as mentioned, have the fastest movement and can close their lobes in one-tenth of a second! How cool is that?
Can a Venus flytrap hurt you?
Well, of course not. They are not that powerful and in fact, you can actually hurt them if you put your fingers in them as they will have to waste energy unnecessarily and might get squashed or damaged in the process.
How much do carnivorous plants cost to buy?
Typically, they are sold at a price ranging from 5-200 dollars, depending on the species.
For example, you are expected to pay about $10-15 for an adult venus flytrap.
But of course, it also depends on where you live. In cold regions, it might be quite difficult to import tropical plants.
Where to find carnivorous plants for sale
You can find plants that eat bugs in a few places such as in local garden centers, but it’s especially easy when you order online too.
Amazon stocks all the things carnivorous plants could ever want such as soil, fertilizer, and other care equipment. However, if you are looking for a beautiful yet deadly carnivorous plant right now, be sure to check out a growing expert.
What’s better than looking at them trying to catch prey? It can be of great entertainment, especially during a pandemic. If you are all set with your plant and your plant necessities, then it’s time to pick out a planter!
We hope that this article helps you get to know more about carnivorous plants and how to take care of them. These guys can be fun to grow and care for. I promise that it’s all worth it. Check out our blog for more advice.