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Insectivorous Terrarium

Fifth Grade Life Science Activities: Insectivorous Terrarium

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Boys might wrinkle their noses at the thought of gardening, but we guarantee they'll like this plant activity! Ever heard of carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytrap? Also called insectivorous, these plants typically grow in nutrient-poor soil and must prey on insects for the nutrients they need to grow. House a few of these tiny terrors in a recycled jar with a bit of sweet fruit inside to attract bugs. For the boy who prefers creepy over cute, this terrarium is a must!

Often native to bogs and similar habitats, most carnivorous plants require abundant light and water. Sundews and bladderworts like high humidity and can tolerate dimmer light. Venus fly traps prefer lower humidity and more sun, and also need to be dormant each winter (keep them in the refrigerator). Carnivorous plants are also sensitive to chemicals—water them with rainwater rather than tap water whenever possible.

What You Need:

  • Rainwater
  • Glass jar with a wide mouth
  • Towel
  • Collection of small carnivorous plants (make sure to pick plants that require similar care)
  • Potting soil mixture high in sand and vermiculite
  • Sphagnum or peat moss

What You Do:

  1. Lay the jar on its side, nested in a towel. Pour a little potting soil into the jar, making sure to keep the soil level below the mouth of the jar.
  2. Help your child transplant the plants to the terrarium. Water with rainwater.
  3. Find a place with the appropriate sun for your plants. Outside is best where bugs are more plentiful. Brace the jar so it doesn't roll.
  4. Now comes the fun part—bugs! Put a piece of fruit inside the mouth of the jar to attract bugs. Don't try to force your plants to eat a bug. They don't need as many nutrients as other plants.

Did You Know? Charles Darwin's book on carnivorous plants, called Insectivorous Plants, was published in 1875.

Updated on Aug 26, 2013
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See more activities in: Fifth Grade, Life Science
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