Plants have marked the evolution of life and continue to fulfill an essential role in a balanced ecology. For millions of years, plants have created habitat in which animals could develop. They are the first link in a long chain of life, but the job of the silent green army that takes care of the planet has not been easy. They have had to develop survival strategies which contain surprising secrets, evolutionary secrets that guarantee their reproduction, secrets that make things striking and secrets that turn them into terrifying traps, magnificent giants and hidden assassins.
Despite the fact that the secrets behind their chemistry hold the origin of one out of every four medicines that we use, some plants cannot survive on nutrients from the soil alone. They are carnivorous plants, able to create appetizing bait in order to obtain food. Their traps are especially designed for invertebrates, which are attracted to them because of their smell and are quickly deceived.
The Venus flytrap is very deceptive. It has two sensitive leaves that act like jaws, which close upon their trophies. A relative of the Venus flytrap, the Sundew has a different way of hunting. The glands on its leaves secrete a false nectar that attracts certain insects. They are trapped in a sticky liquid and they become a meal.
Insects are trapped in different ways according to the species. Nepenthes have a gel like structure and a lid that closes airtight, which prevents their trapped prey from escaping. Other carnivorous plants accumulate a lethal liquid that drowns their victims, which are absorbed by the digestive fluids of the plant. The opening on the border of the plant hides a trap. The creases make the victims lose their balance and fall into a kind of mouth-stomach cavity and there is no way out. When they are lucky, their prey is quite large, which is attracted by the contents of the dangerous receptacle. In nature, death for some means life for others.
Mosquitoes know to wait for the rain to come, when these fearsome plants fill up with water, creating the perfect place for them to protect their eggs. This is where the larvae of this terrible propagator of diseases develop, under the protection of the beautiful and attractive capsule of life or death.