Sundews (Drosera spp.) are carnivorous plants often found in acidic bogs, fens and cedar swamps. They have numerous small leaves arranged in a circular, or rosette, pattern and they are covered with reddish, glandular hairs, or tentacles, that exude a sticky secretion at their tips. Insects, attracted to the glistening sticky droplets which resemble dew, land on a leaf and become stuck. The movement of the struggling insect triggers cell growth in the glandular hairs and they begin folding over the insect within 60 seconds. An anesthetic is released by the plant’s hairs, causing the insect to become motionless. Digestive enzymes are then secreted which liquefy the insect’s internal organs so that they can then be absorbed by the plant’s hairs. Although insect prey is not vital to sundews, the nitrogen the plants receive from the insects enables them to thrive in environments where nitrogen is in short supply. The damselfly pictured has been captured by a Round-leaved Sundew’s glandular hairs which have rendered it motionless and have started to grow and fold over the tip of the damselfly’s abdomen and its wings.
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.
Different species of damselflies and dragonflies emerge throughout the warmer months of the year. Entomologists lump them all into three categories — “spring,” “summer” and “fall” fliers. Fall fliers generally emerge in mid-summer and fly through early to mid-October. Recently, at a nearby pond, it appeared that damselflies were taking advantage of the lingering warm days by mating and laying eggs before cold weather set in. Nearly every cattail leaf was loaded with several pairs of damselflies, most of which were still attached to one another (the males continue to grasp the females after mating with them to prevent the removal of their sperm by other males). When I returned the next day, there wasn’t a damselfly in sight.