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100% Natural Pest Control – Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants grow all over the world. They come from many different climates, but they all have one thing in common. They have evolved, in order to survive in their habitat. And usually this habitat is harsh, and lacking nutrition, so the plants had to find a way to source them. The result of their evolution is what makes them a great way for 100% natural pest control!

“Carnivorous – Carnivore – feeding on other animals”

Carnivorous plants trap and extract nutritions from other living organisms. They have developed different mechanisms in order to trap prey. Those tools could be used for controlling different types of insects.

Those plants are often “featured” in different movies, comic books, animations and other. Sometimes they are vicious beasts from the jungle that trap and kill main characters, and sometimes they are friendly pets that are guarding the garden against intruders. Or the princess… anyway. The image of those plants is most often connected with the first plant we want to get you familiar with, the Venus Flytrap.

Venus Flytraps – (Dionaea muscipula)

Big Mouth Venus Flytrap

A plant ideal for natural fly control in your home. There are many different kinds of Venus Flytraps, but all of them are good at trapping flying insects. The flower lets out a drop of nectar to bait its prey. Once the fly touches the trigger hairs of the plant, it is trapped between the flowers and is up to a slow death, being disintegrated for food. There are six trigger hairs on the leaves, three each side and the interesting thing is that the insect would have to trigger two of them in a specific time window in order to activate the trap. Does this sound inefficient to you? Well, think again. This mechanism is just perfect, it limits the amount of “false alarms” where the plant may close its trap because of a raindrop or other falling object.

You can combine many different types of Venus Flytraps around in your garden. The most popular one should be the “Big Mouth” which is more than capable to eliminate even a big bluebottle fly.

Good for eliminating:

  • House Flies
  • Bluebottle Flies
  • Moths

And any other flying pest that dares to land on the trap. On rare occasions frogs have been found trapped in Venus Flytraps.

Conditions to grow:

The Venus Flytrap would love some compost of five parts sphagnum moss, three parts sand and two parts perlite. It enjoys sunlight and warmth so you will need to keep it away from freezing temperature in the winter. The plant even tells you when it is healthy. Check the colour of the inner side of its traps. If the colour is pink to red, then your plant is perfectly fine. If it is green, it might just need some sunlight. Don’t feed the Venus Flytrap! The Flytrap will actually have traps throughout the entire year, except the winter season. Good thing most of the flies die off in the winter. The Venus Flytraps need a sunny spot to grow, which may be a bit difficult to achieve in an outside garden. Your best option will be to grow it inside. Somewhere near the windows and with a light source nearby. Oh, what a coincidence, those are the ideal conditions for it to feed as well.

Bladderworts – (Utricularia)

Bladderworts need to be planted around water. If you have a pond in your garden you will want to have this plant growing near it. Bladderworts are equipped with small bladders that are located below the water level. Those bladders trap and digest small organisms. The vegetation of bladderworts is also home to other small organisms that serve as food to fishes, so if you do have, or you are planning to make a pond with fishes, you need to consider planting bladderworts. They will also make a lovely addition to your garden, considering that most species flower throughout the entire year. The bladderworts can eliminate your mosquitoes problem. Often people with a pond in their gardens complain that it attracts a lot of mosquitoes. This plant gladly traps and eats freshly hatched mosquito larvae.

Good for eliminating:

  • Mosquito larvae
  • Water fleas
  • Aquatic worms

Conditions to grow:

Bladderworts love sunlight, so you need to deliver it to them. As you can imagine they grow near water sources. There is no need for additional fertilizers to be added to the soil.

Pitcher Traps for Insects

Trumpet Pitchers – (Sarracenia)

The Trumpet Pitcher or “Sarracenia” is another sun-loving plant that is hungry for flying insects. They flower during the summer and their modified leaves serve as an insect trap. The nectar at the entrance of the pitcher calls in flies, wasps and other. Once the insect starts collecting the nectar it eventually loses grip on the waxy surface of the flower and falls to a certain death at the bottom of the pitcher. There, it is trapped in liquid and dissolves in order to feed the plant. The Serracenas come in many different forms and sizes. They can also create hybrids between different types and result in numerous combinations of sizes and colours. The Trumpet Pitchers are probably one of the easiest carnivorous plants to grow, and it also has one of the biggest appetites for pests.

Good for eliminating:

Many foraging insects fall a victim to the Trumpet Pitcher:

  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Butterflies
  • Wasps
  • Ants
  • Beetles

In the tropical regions there wore frogs found in the pitchers of such plants, as well as rats and birds. Frogs are a more common sight, they go because of the insects and therefore are more likely victims. Rats and birds, on the other hand, can easily escape the trap. However, if they are sick or injured that may not be possible. In a way, pitchers became a tool of natural selection for some birds and rodents.

Conditions to grow:

The Sarracenias are one of the tough carnivorous plants. They can grow under sunlight or at shade. They like soil containing, sphagnum moss peat and washed sharp sand in equal portions.

Albany Pitcher – (Cephalotus follicularis)

The Albany Pitcher is an Australian pitcher plant. It comes from the region of Albany, therefore it wears the same name. The Albany Pitcher is a short plant that grows multiple pitcher traps (around 3-4 cm long). The plant is a bit hard to grow, especially outside. It loves light, but it does not do well with heat and it needs the soil to be dry from time to time. However, it does make a great in-house plant somewhere in front of a window, or partly shaded by other plants in the garden. Giving the size of this plant it might trap crawling insects, as well, as flying ones, just because it will be easy for them to reach. Ants, young crickets and other pests that might try to swarm on your taller plants would have to get through the Albany Pitcher first.

Good for eliminating:

  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Butterflies
  • Wasps
  • Ants
  • Beetles

Conditions to grow: It needs a cool place to grow. Leaving your Albany Pitcher under shade will force it to develop bigger pitch and leaves. On the other side, if you plant it under the light the plant will be more colourful, but with smaller leaves.

Cobra Lily – (Darlingtonia californica)

Cobra Lily As Natural Pest Management

The Cobra Lily can be grown inside and outside. It does not like direct sunlight and high temperatures. What it does like is snacking on flying bugs. Insects trapped in the hood of the Cobra Lily are like people lost in a house of mirrors. The light that’s in the hood confuses the fly, wasp or whatever insect is trapped in it. There is only one direction in which it can move, and it is down. The Cobra Lily also uses nectar to bait its prey inside.

Good for eliminating:

  • Wasps
  • Ants
  • Flies

And everything else that is foolish enough to enter the hood. Usually insects go in for the nectar, but some are just searching for a new home or because of plain curiosity.

Conditions to grow:

It can grow under sunlight, but it does not like heat. The soil must be a mixture of equal parts peat, sharp sand and perlite.

Butterworts – (Pinguicula)

Those flowers are ideal for growing inside the house. They have a lovely rosette of flowers, which are sticky and are used to trap small flies, mosquitoes, tiny moths and others. They were used by the Victorians as biological pest control to protect orchids in their gardens. Farmers and hobby growers can benefit from these flowers, by planting them below tomatoes or other plants that they don’t want flies on. There is a UK equivalent, P. Grandiflora, but its flowers are tinier and therefore not so effective.

Good for eliminating:

  • Fruit Flies
  • Moths
  • Mosquitoes
  • House Flies

Conditions to grow:

North facing window or somewhere partly shady. If you are growing the plant in a pot, ensure that there is always distilled water in the saucer, especially while the plant is growing.

Sundews – (Drosera)

Sundew Plant Trapped a Fly
The sundews are a large family with more than 150 different species. They grow in both, trophic conditions and near polar conditions as well. That makes it easy to find the most fitting for you, but with this number of options, it might get a bit tricky. Members of this family can be easily grown outside. Even the native Drosera rotundifolia is one of the plants with higher tolerance to its surrounding conditions. The sundews are very effective as a biological insect control method. They have a large “crown” of leave covered in highly sticky liquid that traps all sorts of small insects. Even by flying near it a fly can get stuck on a string of liquid that is just dripping from a leave. Those plants have some colourful specimens that are, of course, attractive to look at, as well as practical. Plant them near a compost in order to eliminate fruit flies and any other flying pest that comes because of the decaying matter.

Good for eliminating:

  • Fruit Flies
  • House Flies
  • Bluebottles
  • Mosquitoes
  • Moths
  • Beetles

Conditions to grow:

The soil is ideally equal parts of sphagnum moss, peat and sharp sand. Sundews are not picky when it comes to sunlight, in fact, they prefer not to be right under it.

Gardeners In The UK With Advantage

Those flesh-eating plants would be an interesting addition to your garden. They are exotic in a way, and there is something fascinating about them. The engineering behind all those trapping mechanisms and how the lack of food pushed the evolution process in that direction is just something astonishing.

We have a slight advantage in front of gardeners from other countries because these plants can be watered only with rainwater or distilled one if needed. The chances of them surviving in outside gardens and glasshouses are better here.

On top of everything else taking care of such vegetation, could limit the amounts of critters buzzing by around your ears at night.

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