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What is a Flypaper Trap?

Here is everything you need to know about the carnivorous plants with a flypaper trap design. Learn about its mechanics, how it traps, and where it lives.

A carnivorous sundew feeding on a fly.

Humans should always be taking advice from nature. Especially when it comes to dealing with pests. Everyone is familiar with those nasty flypaper traps we hang in our summer cabins and kitchens. The ones that dangle from the ceiling like twirly cemeteries for unlucky flies.

Turns out that we got that idea from plants. The article 5 Types of Carnivorous Plants and How They Trap explains the different methods in which these plants trap their prey. There are pitfall traps, snap traps, suctions traps, lobster pot traps, and today we’re going to observe the flypaper trap more closely. The usual suspect of the carnivorous plants to use this trick is the Sundew.

Related: Pitfall Trap | Snap Trap | Bladderwort | Corkscrew Plants | Thank You Flowers

Introducing the Sundew Carnivorous Plant


A close look at a round drosera plant.

Unlike most other carnivorous plants, the Sundew is actually quite successful. Almost all others are considered to be critically endangered, but there are over 194 species of Sundew. They are a perennial plant, and rather herbaceous to boot.

How She Traps

Sundews possess both types of flytrap characteristics. The edges of her leaves are lined with tiny hairs that are curled down like a burr, that are very efficient at snagging. The face of her leaves is also coated with a sticky mucilage which also so happens to smell incredible (to its prey).

Prey is drawn into her charming white or pink flower, and follow down the stem and become enchanted by the sweet mucus. Once they land on her leaves, the likelihood of escape is very unlikely.

Clusters of blooming carnivorous plants.

The Sundew is equipped with many many leaves, almost like tentacles on an octopus. When a prey lands on one of these leaves, it will curl itself inwards so digest in private.

What She Eats

Since the Sundew is quite a bit smaller than say, a pitcher plant, most of what she eats is going to be reserved for smaller insects and invertebrates.

A close look at a sundew devouring an insect.


  • the Sundew only gets its nutrients from consumption of prey, none whatsoever from the soil
  • there are 194 species of Sundew
  • their flowers develop high above their predatory leaves and are usually white or pink
  • certain species can live up to 50 years!
  • they grow anywhere between 0.4 – 39 inches tall

Where Sundews Exist

Luckily for the Sundew, they are much less picky when it comes to where they live. They occur in every single continent except for Antarctica. Since they are so abundant and prosperous, Sundew’s are one of the safer and more ethical carnivorous plants available as a house plant.

This is a closer view of the flypaper trap of the sundew.

Although, half of all Sundews actually live in Australia. They can be found as north as Alaska, and all the way back to New Zealand.

They appreciate very wet habitats, as all other carnivorous plants do, with ample sunlight and highly acidic soil.

A close look at the carnivorous leaves of a sundew.


Can you have a Sundew as a house plant?

If you’re willing to ensure it is always properly watered and fed, then absolutely! There aren’t going to be as many bugs in your house as there would be outside, so it’s important to hunt some. With bigger bugs like ants or spiders, it’s better to kill them first so they don’t escape while the Sundew is trying to digest.

What can I feed my Sundew?

Depending on the size of your Sundew, it can find an appropriately sized insect.

How do Sundews eat?

They eat by luring prey in with a sweet-smelling, sticky mucus that sticks to their prey. They get stuck on the face of a leaf, which then curls in to prevent escape. They digest their prey right then and there.

How often should I water my Sundew?

Think of your Sundew as being a tropical plant. It always wants to be wet. A good rule of thumb is to spritz it. There should always be droplets of water hanging off of a Sundews little hairs.

Where can I buy a Sundew?

The best bet is to look at your local exotic plant shop.