To think that plants ate insects would go against the order of nature…
After a crazy busy spring field trip season at work, I am finally getting around to catching up on a couple of posts. Like last year, toward the end of April I collaborated with Melissa and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to offer an educator workshop on carnivorous plants. We traveled to the Green Swamp and Holly Shelter, two of the hot spots for insect-eating plants in our state. Check out these earlier posts on these habitats, the variety of carnivorous plants they contain, and the marvelous Venus Flytrap. Since I covered a lot of information in those earlier posts, I’ll just share a few of the highlights from this year’s workshop.
Our first stop was one of the savannas in the Green Swamp. As we took off on the trail, someone found a snake shed and we stopped to admire the beauty of its patterns.
We spent the afternoon in a longleaf pine savanna, enjoying the distinctive sound of wind through the pines and the filtered sunlight on the grasses and other beautiful plants found beneath our feet.
We stayed overnight in Wilmington, and, as we usually do on these workshops, offered an optional trip to the beach for sunrise before eating breakfast and heading over to Holly Shelter.
Driving into the game lands, we stopped on a dry sand ridge to photograph a lupine alongside the road. But a bright green larva caught the eye of one participant and we were all distracted for a few moments, admiring this stout beauty.
The canals alongside the road proved to be a distraction as well with lots of turtles, frogs, and an American alligator.
Finally, we piled out of the vans and found a treasure trove of insect-eating plants, orchids, and other savanna species that have responded spectacularly to the regular prescribed burns.
Workshop participants observing Venus flytraps
As we left the game lands, we stopped occasionally to look for red-cockaded woodpeckers (we saw plenty of nest cavities, but no birds on this day). One nice discovery was a ditch with another species of carnivorous plant – the bizarre little floating bladderwort.
Our workshop concluded with a group of educators excited about the strange world of our state’s carnivorous plants and the incredibly diverse longleaf pine and pocosin habitats where they are found. Hopefully, their enthusiasm and new knowledge will help their students and colleagues better appreciate these unique features of our coastal plain.