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Venus Flytrap Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Most plants get their nutrition from the soil, but Venus flytraps are different. This lesson will teach you about Venus flytraps and how they catch their food.

What is a Venus Flytrap?

Imagine being a fly. You land on what looks like a nice, safe plant only to have its leaves snap shut, trapping you inside and using you for a meal! That is exactly what a Venus flytrap does. It is a type of carnivorous plant that uses insects and small animals for food, just like carnivorous animals eat meat.

Most plants get the vitamins, minerals and other nutrition they need from the soil where they grow. But Venus flytraps live in poor soil where there isn't enough nutrition, so they have to get it other ways.

Venus Flytrap Trapping a Fly
Venus Flytrap with fly

How do Venus Flytraps Catch Their Food?

Despite their name, Venus flytraps don't just trap flies. They trap any insect or small animal that touches the inside of their leaves. This could be a caterpillar or spider, or even a frog!

The Venus flytrap's leaves are hinged, meaning they can open and shut, much like a door. Inside the leaves are short, firm hairs, but they are not like the hair on your head. These hairs act like little sensors, letting the plant know when an insect or small animal is in the leaf. After a few of the hairs are touched, the hinged leaf snaps shut in less than one second, trapping the prey inside.

Venus Flytrap with Open Leaves
Venus Flytrap with open leaves

The edges of the leaves are lined with cilia, or long, hair-like growths that look like eyelashes. When the Venus flytrap leaf snaps shut, the cilia mesh together, acting like bars on a prison cell. This keeps the insect or small animal from escaping before it can be digested, or broken down.

A Venus Flytrap Digesting a Trapped Caterpillar
Venus Flytrap with trapped caterpillar

Once the prey is caught, the Venus flytrap leaf seals itself shut to stop special liquid from leaking out. This liquid is made by the leaves and acts like the acid in your stomach, which breaks down what you eat so your body can use it for nutrition. The Venus flytrap then digests its prey for the nutrition it can't get from the soil.

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