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Venus Flytrap Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

The Venus flytrap is very unique plant that eats living things! In this lesson, learn about the adaptations of the Venus flytrap that help this plant snack on insects to survive.

Carnivorous Plant

It may sound crazy to hear that there is a plant that eats animals, but it's true! Venus flytraps are carnivores, meaning these plants eat only meat. There are not many carnivorous plants in the world, and their adaptations are very impressive and help them survive. Let's discover the awesome adaptations of the Venus flytrap.

Inside the Trap

The Venus flytrap does not hunt for its meat--it catches unsuspecting insects that land on it. The trap is made of two flat leaves at the top of each stem of the plant, and they work like two doors that close around the prey.

So, how does the plant know when to close its leaves? There are small hairs on the inside of each leaf that are very sensitive! They are called trigger hairs because, when these sensitive hairs sense an insect, they trigger the flytrap to close its trap. Then, the leaves release digestive fluids that eat away at the insect and allow the plant to absorb all the nutrients. It's a lot like how your stomach's digestive fluids break down the food you eat.

The small hairs on the flat of the leaves are trigger hairs, and they alert the plant that an insect has landed.
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Energy Conservation

It's hard for the flytrap to tell if what lands its leaf is a tasty insect or just useless a object like a leaf or clump of dirt. The plant uses a lot of energy to close its leaves, and it doesn't want to waste its energy by trying to trap leaves or dirt. So, the plant has an adaptation that allows it to identify insects and save energy.

If the object that lands on the leaves of the flytrap moves and touches the sensitive hairs more than once, the plant knows it's an insect. The leaves clamp down on the insect and trap it. However, if the object does not move more than once, the flytrap will not use energy to move the leaves and trap it.

Inescapable Cilia

What does an insect try to do when it lands in the trap of a Venus flytrap? Escape, of course! But the plant has an adaptation to prevent this. Lining the outer edge of each leaf are tall, thick hairs called cilia. The cilia lock together and help prevent the insect from escaping--like the bars of a jail cell!

Cilia along the edge of leaves help trap insects inside.
plant perennial

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