Science News

From One Fussy Eater to the Next

Sun, 6th Jan 2002

Part of the show Egyptology and Ancient Egypt

German botanists working in Brunei have discovered a surprising fussy-eater - a plant. Most insect-eating plants like Sundews and Venus fly traps, will consume any small creature unlucky enough to come their way, but a pitcher plant in Brunei's rainforest only eats termites ! The plant uses parts of itself as bait to lure a certain kind of termite into its funnel-shaped leaves where they fall into a pitcher of digestive juices. Another surprising finding is that the plant actually uses part of itself as 'bait', growing fine white hairs around the tops of its pitchers. The termites find the hairs irresistible and even alert their nest mates to the location like lambs to the slaughter !

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