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Light traps

Once past the welcoming entrance of the trap, windows of light offer the promise of escape.

Light traps

These con artists use architectural fraud to play mind-games with their prey. Once past the welcoming entrance of the trap, windows of light offer the promise of escape. The real exit is often hidden by a dark, curved wall. The victim is persuaded deeper into the trap and embarks on one-way journey.

Sequence of a Cobra-Lily light trap in action

How a Cobra-Lily uses light traps

Enticement – The ‘fangs’ of the lily entice insects with fragrant nectar. Browsing on the sweet bait, victims wander closer to the trap … and then they’re inside.

False hope – Within a domed chamber, windows of light glow brightly. Confused and unable to find the real exit, the prey tries frantically to escape.

Leisurely feast – Exhausted, the victim stumbles and falls into the pitcher. It drowns in the pool of water at the base, and is devoured by larvae, slime mites and bacteria.

Parrot pitcher plant – amphibian hunter 

The Parrot Pitcher-plant (Sarracenia psittacina) hunts crawling insects. Its pitchers lie on the ground, and when its boggy habitat is flooded, they become submerged.   

Equally deadly underwater, the traps attract tadpoles that, once inside, can’t find the dark exit. Myriad sharp, spikey hairs point towards the trap’s end, and the tadpoles are forced to their doom.

Light traps activities

Use the sequence of diagrams of the cobra lily to recount the sequence in trapping a fly. Write or tell in first-person from the fly’s point of view and also from the cobra lily’s point of view. Add speech bubbles to the sequence of drawings or use puppets or role play. 

Draw a set of cartoon-style illustrations that illustrate how the Parrot Pitcher-plant attracts and traps tadpoles.

Want to know more?

Branch out Plants with bite podcast - Plants with Bite: sticky, sneaky & freaky 
How to care for a Venus fly trap