The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: What do I do if I cannot find bugs?

A: Bugs are all over. Go turn over some rocks if you want to find them. Put some dirty dishes outside and see the multilegged ones gather. The only time it seems difficult to find bugs is during the winter. Ah, but during the winter many carnivorous plants will also be resting, and will not want to be fed! If you are trying to feed plants during the winter, are you forgetting to respect their winter dormancy requirements?

All right, I should temper my previous remarks by noting that not all carnivorous plants have dormant periods. Tropical sundews do not have dormant periods. The commonly grown Drosera capensis ("cape sundew") does not need a dormant period, either. You can feed these all the time.

If you really are having trouble finding suitable bugs or insects, you can buy them at pet stores. Crickets are good for large plants like Nepenthes and Sarracenia. Meal worms are good for smaller plants. Some people kill these insects by freezing them. This is fine, but Venus flytraps will require a little coaxing to eat dead prey. Expert grower John B has converted me to the use of dried "blood-worms." You can buy these at pet stores. You put a dash of blood-worms on little Drosera and Pinguicula, and they like it. I do not know what a blood-worm is. The name is disgusting. If you know what a blood-worm is, don't e-mail me. Just be quietly happy that you know more than me.

You can also buy cans of cooked bugs that, while intended for reptiles, are quite excellent for carnivorous plants. Your best bet on getting these is to e-mail Houston Herps for more information. That place is run by a carnivorous plant enthusiast who will set you up with enough bugs that you can have a cooked-bug-party (a very popular thing among the debauched California jet set, by the way).

By the way, a bonus use of bugs is that if you are really bored, you can devise clever things to do with them. A former coworker is an entomologist and every winter holiday season she and her buddies figure out lovely ways to incorporate bugs into food. Yum yum! To the right you can see a tasty rice crispy treat she made with meal worms. Did I eat it? Of course I did. Hmmm hmmm! And as a result, I developed a special bond with my carnivorous plants that I didn't before.

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observations.

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005