The Death Pitcher of the Sarracenias

A very singular group of plants, the Sarracenias, are quite common in the bogs of North America. These are of an elegant shape, and may be as much as one foot or two feet in height. Nearly always they are highly colored, and altogether so attractive do they appear that insects of all kinds simply crowd to them. On arrival at the lip of the pitcher, the insects find a feast of honey spread out for their delectation. With almost devilish ingenuity this becomes sweeter and more plentiful the farther down into the pitcher one traverses. At a certain point, however, the nectar ceases, and the insect thinks that he will retrace his steps. But although it has been easy enough to go down, it is almost impossible to get back, for the surface of the inside of the pitcher is thickly covered with sharp bristles, all pointing downward.

Some flying insects may escape, but even these do not find it easy, as witness the fact that the plant often catches a large number of winged creatures. In the lower part of the Sarracenia pitcher a fluid is secreted, and it is into this that the creatures ultimately fall, and, of course, perish. How successful are the Sarracenias in their insect-catching may be gathered from the fact that pitchers have been discovered well nigh full of flies and other small creatures.