8 Carnivorous Plants That Eat Bugs

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Carnivorous plants are an inexhaustible source of fascination for scientists and non-scientists alike. These plants get their nutrients from capturing and digesting animals, usually insects and other arthropods. The possibility that plants can eat animals has been debated for many years and has inspired many books and movies.

Carnivorous plants are distributed in various taxa of the angiosperm clade, linked by the phytocarnivore niche. True carnivores are thought to have more than a dozen genera and have evolved independently about a dozen times in five distinct orders of flowering plants.

Aspects of their evolution, including rapid responses to nutrient demands and additions, and developmental preformation, make carnivorous plants well suited to address fundamental questions in biology, such as dietary preference and population prediction.

This article examines some carnivorous plants that eat bugs.

1. Flytrap

Closeup of insect trap structure of Venus flytrap plant isolated on white background
Venus flytrap is one of the most common carnivorous plants in subtropical wetlands.

© sawinimages/Shutterstock.com

scientific name flytrap
color variety red, white and green
high 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
Habitat wetlands

Venus flytrap is one of the most common carnivorous plants in subtropical wetlands. Its main prey include insects and spiders. It has a decoy structure formed by the terminal part of the leaf, which is usually triggered by sensitive microreceptors on its inner surface. As the unsuspecting bug crawls along the leaf and its fine hairs, action potentials are triggered through the electrical grid.

2. Purple Nepenthes

Purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea)
Nepenthes purple is a carnivorous plant in the Sarracenia family.

©Fox Traveler/Shutterstock.com

Nepenthes purple
scientific name Nori Sarracenia
color variety green, red and purple
high 6-18 inches
Habitat Prefers a moist sunny location and grows in nutrient-poor acidic swamps

Nepenthes purple is a carnivorous plant in the Sarracenia family. Like other pitcher plants, Sarracenia obtains its nutrition by capturing prey. It catches unsuspecting bugs with traps that rely heavily on microstructured smooth surfaces.

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3. Cobra Lily

Carnivorous Plant: Cobra Lily
Cobra lily is a carnivorous plant in the Sarracenia family.

©Arty Alison/Shutterstock.com

cobra lily
scientific name california darlington flower
color variety ranges from yellow to purple-green
high grows to about 2 feet tall
Habitat Native to the swamps of southern Oregon and the mountains of northern California

Cobra lily, best known by its name Nepenthes california, is a carnivorous plant in the Sarracenia family . It is commonly found in swamps and seeps with cold water flowing. Unlike other members of the pitcher plant family, Darlingtonia californica has a distinctly closed top and does not collect water, a mechanism other pitcher plants use to produce digestive juices that dissolve insects. Conversely, cobra lilies are well suited to physiologically pump water into the trap to keep the fluid at an ideal ion concentration.

The translucent cobra lily leaves often confuse bugs. Unsuspecting bugs think they are fleeing the trap, when in reality, they are moving deeper.

4. Yellow Nepenthes

pitcher plant, swamp, swamp, forest, green
Yellow pitcher plants use their curled leaves to catch bugs.


Nepenthes yellow
scientific name Yellow Sarracenia
color variety Has bright yellow flowers and green trumpet-shaped leaves
high 18-36 inches
Habitat Wet pine forests and swamps

Yellow pitcher plant is another species of pitcher plant in the Sarracenia family. Like most pitcher plants, it uses its curled leaves to trap bugs. Its leaves are filled with rainwater, and the uppermost part of the leaf is expanded to prevent excess rainwater from diluting the digestive secretions inside the pitcher. Once a bug flies in, it can't fly out.

5. Monkey Cup

Tropical pitcher plant or monkey cup in the forest
Monkey Cup is a carnivorous plant in the family Nepenthes .


monkey cup
scientific name Nepenthes
color variety green, brown and red
high Climbing stems can grow up to 49 feet, depending on type
Habitat Tropical regions of Southeast Asia, Australia, and Madagascar

Monkey pitcher plant, also known as tropical pitcher plant, is an insectivorous plant of the genus Nepenthes in the family Nepenthes. The name "monkey cup" comes from the fact that monkeys are thought to drink rainwater from these pitcher plants.

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The money cup acts as a passive bug trap, producing a large amount of digestive enzymes to break down bugs and obtain nutrients through enzymatic digestion.

6. Butter Grass

Carnivorous Plants: Butter Grass
Wormwood is an insectivorous plant in the lentil family .

©Ivana Stevanoski/Shutterstock.com

butter grass
scientific name penguin
color variety blue, purple, or white with yellow, green, or red tinges
high 2-6 inches in bloom
Habitat Damp areas such as swamps, swamps, damp heather, and rock crevasses

Wormwood is an insectivorous plant in the lentil family . Its sticky hairs help lure, trap and digest bugs. In addition to eating bugs, buttergrass also gets its nutrients from the pollen that falls on its leaves. It is thought that the Pinguicula glands undergo autophagy as a result of capturing prey.

7. Alice Moutai

Alice Sundew, Australia, Swamp, Botany, Bright
Drosera is a carnivorous plant in the sundew family.

©iStock.com/Karin de Mamiel

Alice Sundew
scientific name Drosera
color variety red, orange, yellow or metallic purple
high up to 10 inches
Habitat Prefers moist habitats with acidic soils. South Africa,

Drosera is a carnivorous plant in the sundew family. Along with Drosera capensis, Drosera aliciae is one of the most commonly cultivated sundews. It produces attractive red flowers, which play a key role in attracting bugs.

Thirsty bugs are attracted to what look like raindrops on the leaves. However, the watery substance is actually a jelly-like substance that traps insects. After digesting the prey, the leaves unfold to set another trap.

8. Big floating bag grass

Bladderwort inflata illustration
Bladderworts have pouch bladders that serve as traps.

©Britton, NL, and A. Brown / public domain – License

Big floating laver
scientific name Bladderwort
color variety bright yellow flowers
high about 8 – 40 inches
Habitat Aquatic environments such as swamps, ditches and lakes

Large floating water plant, commonly known as swelling water plant or swollen water plant, is a large aquatic carnivorous plant of the lentil family Phytaceae . Washington state lists it as one of the most problematic aquatic plants because of its dense mat-forming habit. It is one of the few invasive carnivorous plants.

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Bladderworts have pouch bladders that serve as traps. They are about the size of a pinhead and are used to catch very small animals such as tiny crustaceans, newly hatched tadpoles and mosquito larvae.


  • Top 10 Carnivorous Plants That Eat Bugs
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More from AZ Animals

featured image

Close up of a potted Venus flytrap
Carnivorous plants such as Venus Venus traps can help control fruit flies.

© Menno van der Haven/Shutterstock.com

about the author

jeremiah wright

I have seven years of professional experience in the content field, focusing on nature and wildlife. Besides writing, I also enjoy surfing the Internet and listening to music.

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  1. University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture, available here: https://www.uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/lily-cobra-9-2-11.aspx
  2. USDA, available here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/sarracenia_flava.shtml
  3. Missouri Department of Conservation, available here: https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bladderworts
  4. National Library of Medicine, available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2634039/