Brief Communications

Nature 415, 36-37 (3 January 2002) | doi:10.1038/415036a

Carnivorous plants: Mass march of termites into the deadly trap

Marlis A. Merbach1, Dennis J. Merbach1, Ulrich Maschwitz1, Webber E. Booth2, Brigitte Fiala3 & Georg Zizka4

Carnivorous pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes are not usually very selective about their prey, catching anything that is careless enough to walk on their slippery peristome, but Nepenthes albomarginata is an exception. We show here that this plant uses a fringe of edible white hairs to lure and then trap its prey, which consists exclusively of termites in enormous numbers. This singular feature accounts for the specialization of N. albomarginata for one prey taxon, unique so far among carnivorous plants.

  1. Fachbereich Biologie, Zoologisches Institut, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Postfach 111932, 60054 Frankfurt, Germany
  2. Biology Department, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo
  3. Universität Würzburg, Zoologie III, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
  4. Botanik/Paläobotanik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität und Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Correspondence to: Marlis A. Merbach1 e-mail: Email: merbach@zoology.uni-frankfurt.de