These Carnivorous Plants Glow Under Ultraviolet Light to Attract Prey

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It’s long been known that carnivorous plants lure their insect prey in a range of ways: irresistible nectars, vivid colors and alluring scents that range from rose to rotten flesh.

But recently, a group of scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute in India discovered a previously hidden means of beckoning among the most ruthless of greenery. Some carnivorous plants, they discovered, lure insects to their death with a fluorescent glow invisible to the human eye.

Scientists believe that insects are attracted to carnivorous plants by the their odors and colors, but hard evidence as to what exactly lures the bugs to their deaths was previously unknown. In a stroke of serendipity, a team of scientists led by botanist Sabulal Baby put several carnivorous plants they’d been using for unrelated experiments under ultraviolet light, including Nepenthes khasiana, a rare pitcher plant native to India, and photographed what they saw.

“To our great surprise, we found a blue ring on on the pitcher rim,” Baby says. “Then, we looked at other Nepenthes species and the prey traps of other carnivorous plants, including the Venus flytrap, and we consistently found UV-induced blue emissions.”

 

Written By: Joseph Stromberg
continue to source article at blogs.smithsonianmag.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve heard of a similar thing…that birds pick out the ripest fruits by the Ultra Violet light glow they give off – that unripe fruits do not.
    Its invisible to humans…maybe birds don’t need to see colour but different light intensity that colours give off ! If we had special glasses that made everything appear ultra violet and glowing it would be quite Avatar like.

  2. But recently, a group of scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute in India discovered a previously hidden means of beckoning among the most ruthless of greenery. Some carnivorous plants, they discovered, lure insects to their death with a fluorescent glow invisible to the human eye.

    This is unsurprising, as many flowers are “colourful” in ultraviolet to attract insects. Many birds are also much more brightly patterned in UV.

    Neodarwinian @1 – Is it just the Philistine in me or does everyone else see the commercial possibilities for insect control here?

    They are way ahead of you there:- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultra-Violet-Light-Insect-Killer/dp/B001TPURX0

    • In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

      But recently, a group of scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute in India discovered a previously hidden means of beckoning among the most ruthless of greenery. Some carnivorous plants, they discovered, lure insects to their death with a fluorescent glow inv…

      Damn!

      I shall never be rich!

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