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Many people cannot help but to be continuously fascinated with the existence of carnivorous plants. Plants, judging by the way they appear, seem to be nothing more than inanimate objects. However, there are complex processes taking place within every species of plant. The idea of plants as meateaters gives plants a certain degree of personality that seems scarcely possible. When considering carnivorous plants, most people think of venus flytraps, but there exists many more species. Much like all plant species, carnivorous plants receive nutrients from the soil in which they are routed. However, if carnivorous plants are routed in nutritionally impoverished soil, they will resort to meat-eating in order to obtain essential missing nutrients. One lesser group of carnivorous plants are known as sundews, and they can be found growing in bogs located in Japan. Obviously, carnivorous plants are immobile, so they need all of the help that they can get when it comes to collecting tasty insects. Amazingly, Japanese researchers have gathered evidence suggesting that certain flowers located near carnivorous plants will lure insects in order to make a gift of them to neighboring sundews.

According to Kazuki Tagawa from Kyushu University in Fukuoka, sundews sometimes eat insects that are lured by neighboring flowers. As astonishing and as rare as this sounds, there is actually a term used to describe this behavior, but it does not refer exclusively to carnivorous plants. Despite receiving nothing in return, flowers nevertheless expend energy aimed at luring insects into their vicinity so that sundews can make a meal out of them. This seemingly altruistic behavior is referred to as “kleptoparasitism”. Although kleptoparasitism has been observed before in several animal species, this is the first ever documented case of kleptoparasitism benefiting a carnivorous plant species. Scientists discovered this phenomenon after removing the flowers that grow on sundew plants.

Initially, researchers assumed that insects were attracted to the flowers growing on sundew plants. However, after the sundew’s flowers were removed, the amount of insects consumed by sundews remained the same. Once the flowers located next to sundew plants were removed, the amount of insects consumed by sundews plummeted. When the neighboring flowers were returned to areas containing sundews, the amount of insects consumed by sundews increased to previous levels. Although sundews cannot express themselves, they are surely grateful to the neighboring flowers.

Have you ever heard of two different insect species that resort to kleptoparasitism?

 

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