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How Do Sundew Plants Trap Insects? Reasons + Process

Do you know Sundew plants can trap insects using their ensnaring leaves? These plants have a cunning but marvelous ability to get nutrition from living organisms.

Generally, the carnivorous Sundew plants trap insects as they grow in nutrient-poor (especially nitrogen-poor) soil, requiring live prey to fulfill their nitrogen demands. Furthermore, these plants trap insects with the help of sensitive, sticky glands present on the leaf surface that roll over once a prey lands on it.
From the article, let’s learn how Sundew plants trap insects and why they go on this brutal spree.

What Is A Sundew Plant? [Key Facts & Information]

The Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) is a carnivorous plant that is trendy for its ability to capture and digest insects with digestive enzymes.

Moreover, this plant has a wide distribution range in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

It grows well in moist habitats, including waterlogged areas and wetlands.

Sundew owns small size and rosette leaves covered with glandular hairs.

Sundew plants with their beautiful flowers
This plant, aka Sundew because its leaves look like dewdrops.

Digestion of insects is carried out by digestive enzymes such as nucleases, proteases, and esterases.

However, similar enzymes are available in other carnivorous plants too, such as Venus fly trap and Pitcher plant.

Sundew plants are not so difficult to care for and thrive well in acidic and nutrient-poor soil.

They demand partial sunlight for 4-6 hours daily, which is crucial for photosynthesis.

What Are The Benefits Of Sundew Plant?

Besides its interesting mechanism of trapping insects for nutrients, this plant possesses some other benefits that are mentioned below.

  • Carnivorous adaptation: Sundew plants are the best example of resisting challenging environments. They thrive in nutrient-poor soil and fulfill their needs by trapping and taking nutrients from trapped insects.
  • Biodiversity conservation: Researchers can gain some insights by researching the sensitive environments in which the Sundew plant grows. On top of that, this will help in biodiversity conservation.
  • Natural pest control: Cultivating the carnivorous plants around the essential crops, including Sundew plants, helps control pests naturally.

Why Do Sundew Plants Trap Insects?

Sundew plants generally trap insects to obtain nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, that are scarce in the nutrient-poor soil they grow.

Here is the reason why Sundew plants trap insects.

  1. Nutrient-poor soil: Sundew plants grow in wet environments like bogs and wetlands where nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are low. So, this plant manages these nutrients from the insects that they trap.
  2. Carnivorous nature: This plant is carnivorous in nature to obtain nutrients from the insects it digests.
  3. Sticky glands: These plants possess some sticky glands that secrete sticky and sugary substances that help to stick insects in their leaves.
  4. Capture mechanisms: The Sundew plant has an advanced mechanism to capture its prey by rolling its sensitive leaves inwards and digesting the food for extra nutrition.

How Do Sundew Plant Trap Insects?

Some parts of Sundew plants are miraculous enough to trap insects. Here is the overall mechanism of Sundew plants trapping insects.

  • Sticky glands: Sundew leaves are covered with glandular hairs known as trichomes that secrete mucilaginous and sugary substances that stick the insects to their leaves.
  • Insect attraction: Sundew plants produce glistening droplets that attract insects like moths, butterflies, and mosquitoes, so trapping will be easy.
  • Enzyme secretion: After tentacles fully capture the insects, the plant produces digesting enzymes that digest the insects.
  • Nutrient absorption: The dissolved nutrients of the insects are absorbed by trichomes on the leaf surface.

From Editorial Team


The Sundew plants can trap any kind of insects that fall into their sticky and delicious leaves.

However, if your garden harbors beneficial pollinators, keep the plant away from them, as the results will not be satisfying!