Recommended Posts

I received an interesting question from a teacher. His students asked "what animals eat Nepenthes?"

I have no idea. I know N. ampullaria pitchers are used as a convenient container for cooked rice in Sarawak -- but I do not think people eat the Nepenthes container.

So that brings up a more general question. What animals eat carnivorous plants in general? Are there animals that specifically target a CP -- rather than the occasional munching?

For example, the Venus flytrap moth (Hemipachnobia subporphyrea) was thought to be a Dionaea obligate, but recent studies suggest VFTs are at least their strongly preferred host.

The caterpillars of several moths feed on the S. purpurea. These species include: Exyra fax (Epauletted Pitcher Plant Moth), who feed on the inner surface of the tubular leaves; Papaipema appassionata (Pitcher Plant Borer Moth), feed on the roots; and Endothenia hebesana (Dull-Barred Endothenia), feed within the seed capsules. This last moth is polyphagous (feeds on many plants), while the other moths feed only on Sarracenia spp. Sarracenia flowers and leaves are sometimes eaten by deer and voles.

But, what eats Nepenthes?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I received an interesting question from a teacher. His students asked "what animals eat Nepenthes?"

I have no idea. I know N. ampullaria pitchers are used as a convenient container for cooked rice in Sarawak -- but I do not think people eat the Nepenthes container.

So that brings up a more general question. What animals eat carnivorous plants in general? Are there animals that specifically target a CP -- rather than the occasional munching?

But, what eats Nepenthes?

This raises a philosophical question on which I have mused with friends for many an hour (well OK, maybe just a couple of sessions in the pub) :wink:

Is something that eats a carnivorous plant classed as a herbivore or an omnivore?

It's a bit like the defence against Shylock's pound of flesh in the Merchant of Venice:

Can an organism eat a 'vegetable' CP without taking in some unadulterated animal material...

Hmmm...

V2

Link to post
Share on other sites
My plants have ethics. They only eat flies that would otherwise naturally fall dead to the ground (cf fruitarians). :smile:

Told you this themselves, have they? :wacko:

Answers on a postcard to:

Prince of Wales, Highgrove House, Gloucs. :wink:

Anyway, back on track:

I imagine there are some native gastropods - effing slugs and snails - which can manage the tough, leathery tissues of Nepenthes?

V2

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some bird species will probably peck at them. Presumably the nectaries along the leafs and stems encourage ants in order to keep most insects under control, that aside one would imagine all the usual insect/caterpillars and general leaf munchers would have a go.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Some bird species will probably peck at them. Presumably the nectaries along the leafs and stems encourage ants in order to keep most insects under control, that aside one would imagine all the usual insect/caterpillars and general leaf munchers would have a go.

Interesting idea about using nectar to attract ants and so keep herbivores (omnivores?) at bay.

Some African species of acacia do this, as well as offering ready-made nests for the ants.

But I wonder if this is generally true for Nepenthes;

Sarracenia produce narcotics like cooin, to encourage insect nectar-feeders to fall in.

(I've tried rescuing flies from Sarracenia - they're clearly wired :Laie_98:

N.B. for dope fiends: I've heard that it has no similar effect on humans, has a horrible aftertaste and makes you feel very sick). :sick:

Seems likely - convergent evolution? - that Nepenthes produce similar narcotics, for the same reason. If so, a stoned ant would make a poor protector for the plant, but would make good prey :whistling:

I note that Nepenthes lowii and a couple of other species seem to deliberately produce nectar to encourage tree shrews (Tupaia montana) to poo lots of luvverly fixed nitrogen into the pitchers. Tupaia spp. eat lots of insects, so maybe the plants get protection, as well as poo, for a free lunch?

V2

Edited by Vic2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyway, back on track:

I imagine there are some native gastropods - effing slugs and snails - which can manage the tough, leathery tissues of Nepenthes?

Sorry to take this back 'off track' for a second but I saw the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life not long ago.. I had my flava seedlings on the second shelf down on some racking and they were being eaten by what I assumed was slugs or snails.. The only thing was they were being eaten from the top downwards! Because they were seedlings there's no way they could bear the weight of something as big as a slug and I was very confused for a few days..

I came home from work one day and dived out to check my plants and to my astonishment I found a slug hanging from a 'string' of slime from the shelf above the seedlings, eating them!!!! :Laie_98:

I couldn't believe my eyes! Unfortunately I couldn't find my camera to be able to take a shot of it but if I ever see it again I will do!

The slug in question made a very quick exit away from my plants, taking flying lessons as it was launched over several of my neighbours gardens!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
I came home from work one day and dived out to check my plants and to my astonishment I found a slug hanging from a 'string' of slime from the shelf above the seedlings, eating them!!!! :sick:

I couldn't believe my eyes! Unfortunately I couldn't find my camera to be able to take a shot of it but if I ever see it again I will do!

The slug in question made a very quick exit away from my plants, taking flying lessons as it was launched over several of my neighbours gardens!!

That is weird but admirable, in a 'glad-it-wasn't-me' sort of way. Isn't nature amazing?

I hope you taught the venerable SAS slug how to land, as well as fly...? :Laie_98:

V2 :whistling:

Edited by Vic2
Link to post
Share on other sites
That is weird but admirable, in a 'glad-it-wasn't-me' sort of way. Isn't nature amazing?

I hope you taught the venerable SAS slug how to land, as well as fly...? :crazy_pilot:

V2 :biggrin:

Ermmm... No! But I kinda figured any slug smart enough to learn absailing could figure it out before it crash landed :on_the_quiet:
Link to post
Share on other sites
Ermmm... No! But I kinda figured any slug smart enough to learn absailing could figure it out before it crash landed :on_the_quiet:

Hey, if that works for your supple conscience, who am I to argue? :roll:

Poor lil' slug... Just 'cos it showed some smart initiative... :cray:

I just hope you can sleep nights!! :crazy_pilot:

V2 :biggrin:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey, if that works for your supple conscience, who am I to argue? :roll:

Poor lil' slug... Just 'cos it showed some smart initiative... :roll:

I just hope you can sleep nights!! :crazy_pilot:

V2 :cray:

Initiative my arse!!! Look what it did!!!! :biggrin:

Munchedtop1.jpg

And I have NO problems at all sleeping at night! There have been quite a few snails and slugs taking flying lessons out of my garden :on_the_quiet:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Initiative my arse!!! Look what it did!!!! :ireful2:

And I have NO problems at all sleeping at night! There have been quite a few snails and slugs taking flying lessons out of my garden :pleasantry:

The lil' bar steward!! :shock:

Forget flying lessons - I would've introduced it to a half-brick, very suddenly.

Then I'd go looking for any of its relatives near my CPs, 'cos my half-brick is very sociable... :evil:

Darwin rules!! :vinsent:

Anway, on the bright side, you do prove a point for the thread: Gastropods are proven CP eaters.

V2 :rainingsmile:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Forget flying lessons - I would've introduced it to a half-brick, very suddenly.

I can't do that.. It's bad enough when I step in them when it's been raining and I feel them 'pop' underfoot.. I hate it so much I rarely go out in the rain at night as I can't always see them on the ground! (Yer I know I'm sad but I don't care :lol: )

Link to post
Share on other sites
some monkeys in the wild tear open the pitchers and drink/eat the contents.

Must be a tough monkey...

If I accidentally spill any of the pitcher contents on my hands, they come up in red and inflamed within an hour. The pitchers are essentially open stomachs, with low pH and proteases to match. If a monkey drinks that, the corrosive fluid will start to digest its mouth and throat?

V2

Link to post
Share on other sites

John Turnbull mentioned to me that he observed some caterpillar-like larvae feeding on the Nepenthes racemes, and eating the fresh seed in their pods; but birds would swoop down from the canopy to forage for them, often getting their damp feet loaded with Nepenthes seed, and then fly back up to the mossy and wet perches of the canopy, which explains how so many of them wind up growing epiphytically, and high up in those branches where there is damp to wet moss and lichens covering much of the trees' limbs. - Rich

Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't do that.. It's bad enough when I step in them when it's been raining and I feel them 'pop' underfoot.. I hate it so much I rarely go out in the rain at night as I can't always see them on the ground!

I can't put salt or metaldehyde on them. They immediately froth up in self-defence and writhe about.

If the slug had a voice we could hear, it would screaming in agony. I can't do that to anything, let alone my relatives. Ribosomal RNA sequence analysis has shown we're very closely related to every animal, fungus and plant on this planet.

My friendly neighbourhood half-brick is very quick; I make sure they're completely obliterated as fast as I can do it. Then I can sleep nights...

V2

Link to post
Share on other sites
Must be a tough monkey...

If I accidentally spill any of the pitcher contents on my hands, they come up in red and inflamed within an hour. The pitchers are essentially open stomachs, with low pH and proteases to match. If a monkey drinks that, the corrosive fluid will start to digest its mouth and throat?

There is an article in the May, 1964 issue of National Geographic that shows an orangutan sipping from a Nepenthes (that was handed to it.) Also has a picture of a close relative of the orang doing the same thing.

Here is a link to a PDF of the article:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/igws8c

Free bonus, another CP article from NatGeo:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/zmk6bx

Link to post
Share on other sites
There is an article in the May, 1964 issue of National Geographic that shows an orangutan sipping from a Nepenthes (that was handed to it.) Also has a picture of a close relative of the orang doing the same thing.

I've bumped this fascinating topic onto another thread, to avoid treading on BobZ's toes! :Elffy_16:

V2

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.