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The Venus flytrap can live in very poor soils since it supplements its diet with minerals obtained from insects.
Each trap on a Venus flytrap plant has sensitive hairs that signal the plant when it is touched and cause it to close quickly. The sweet-scented leaves attract insects. When an insect alights on a trap and triggers hairs, it causes the jaw-like leaves to snap shut. It takes about 1/30 of a second for the leaves to snap shut (in full sunlight). Cloudy conditions or low temperatures slow the reaction time.
The trapped insect is then slowly dissolved by acids and digested by the plant. About a week later, all that is left of the insect is its hard chitin exoskeleton.
A pair of flytrap leaves dies after catching insects four times. If a trap is triggered but there is no insect inside, the leaves will re-open in about a day.
GROWING ONE AT HOME!
Venus flytraps thrive in a humid environment with bright light and acid soil (sphagnum moss works well). Don't fertilize a Venus flytrap; just feed it some small insects (like ants) to keep it healthy. Keep it watered (with rain water or distilled water so the pH of the soil stays acidic). Trim dead leaves to avoid disease. Allow the plant to go dormant over winter; lower the temperature (to 33-55 degrees F or 1-12 degrees C). They can withstand a light frost.
drawing by Audrey, age 6
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