Here are some really killer photos…
My subject matter tonight is again about insects. More specifically, it is about a couple of insects that encountered the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) in my bog garden. Hmm…I guess we are really talking about insect corpses.
To be honest, my bog garden it isn’t really a garden, it’s just a big pot with a variety of carnivorous plants growing in it. But it is easily the most interesting spot in the whole garden. It is always fascinating to see what kind of bug has been trapped by which plant.
Anyhow, I think most people are familiar with Venus flytraps and how they trap insects. Venus flytraps grow in bogs and similar habitats that are low in the nitrogen and phosphorus that plants need to survive (nitrogen and phosphorus are primary nutrients for plants, along with potassium). So flytraps have evolved the ability to trap and digest insects and other arthropods in order to acquire these nutrients. Their “traps” are formed by two opposing lobes at the end of their leaves, each of which is fringed by a row of “teeth”. If a small enough prey touches the tiny hairs on the inner surface of the trap (it has to touch 2 hairs in a short period of time) the trap closes. If the prey is too big it might be able to muscle out of the trap. If not, If the edges of the trap slowly force themselves together, eventually sealing the trap to form a pouch around the prey. The trap then secretes enzymes into the pouch to digest the prey. Kind of creepy eh?
This first photo below is of a very long legged insect that has been successfully trapped by the plant. I have no idea what kind of critter it was—I’m guessing maybe a crane fly (family Tipulidae), but really, your guess is as good as mine. In fact, if you have a guess I’d love to hear it! [Update: The consensus is that it wasn’t an insect at all—it was a harvestman order Opiliones)—EC]
Once digestion is complete there isn’t much left of the prey than an empty husk. The trap then opens again and is ready for business once more. The second photo shows the remains of an insect in a newly re-opened trap. It looks like an ex-fly to me.
It sure is tough being a bug…
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (photo 1:F11 @ 1/125 sec; photo 2: F22 @ 1/125 sec)
Lighting: on-camera flash (diffused)