Q: I was at the new Children’s Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden last weekend and wandered past the bog exhibit. Kids there were putting their fingers into the Venus Fly Traps to make them close. This made me wonder: does a Venus Fly Trap get tired of opening and closing?
A: Tracy Barlow, Youth Program Coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, says that she gently tries to discourage visitors from poking the Venus Fly Traps. However, the plant=s jaws can reopen a few times even if a closure doesn’t result in a captured insect. After being fooled five or six times, though, the trap moves slowly and the leaf absorbs sunshine but not insects. Interestingly, Venus Fly Traps do not respond very well to root fertilization. They are accustomed to getting much of their nutrition from the insects they apprehend. In fact, the folk wisdom that a Venus Fly Trap can be fed bits of hamburger meat is completely wrong. The plant has adapted to digest insects but not the protein and fat of animals.