Thursday, March 18, 2010

Carnivorous bladderwort (Utricularia sp) plant with mosquito larva prey

Bladderworts are aquatic carnivorous plants. The structure that the mosquito larva (baby mosquito, something like a caterpillar is to a butterfly or moth) has been sucked into is the bladder, where the prey is digested. People used to think that bladderworts only preyed upon critters small enough to fit entirely in the bladders, but as you can see in this photo, this is not true. The person who figured that out used little strings of cooked egg whites in some experiments to find out that they will take in larger prey and slowly digest it little by little. Some bladdworts have pretty flowers, as you can see here

if you open up the photo gallery. If you do a search at that site at the top for Utricularia, or change the search to common name and do the search for bladderwort, you can find pictures and maps for other Florida bladderwort species. By the way, the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants is a very useful website for anyone who lives in the southeastern US, or just about anywhere in the US if you want to see pictures of what some plants look like.

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