The Venus Fly Trap Food Guide. Feed those hungry mouths!

Feeding your flytraps is fun, but should be done with proper care and technique to ensure the plant is not damaged or stressed out. If you read my Five Venus Flytrap Facts post, you know that feeding is not a necessary part of flytrap care. However, I know some folks really get a kick out of watching the traps go, Venus Fly trap and foodso I’ve put together this guide on Venus fly trap food and proper feeding techniques. When done properly with young flytraps, feeding can boost their growth significantly!

Quick reminder: Don’t overfeed. Only feed 2 traps per plant once a week at the most!

Quick tips: I recommend using a toothpick or a pair of tweezers to feed your plants. Flytraps in particular need to feel live prey struggling after the trap snaps shut. This will further stimulate the trigger hairs and signal the trap to create a seal. Once the seal is made, the plant releases digestive juices and takes nourishment from the food. You can simulate the struggle of live prey by gently (GENTLY!) pressing against the two sides of the trap with your toothpicks or tweezers.

On to the menu!

Live insects such as spiders, ants, and flies are the obvious first choice. Anything that crawls or flies with six legs will make a fine meal for your plant. These are high in nitrogen, which is exactly what carnivores need as nourishment. However this is the feeding choice that takes the most effort, obviously! You will have to catch the prey yourself in order to hand-feed your plants. It’s much easier to just let the plants do the work. 😉 There is also no need to press against the sides of the trap since the struggle of live prey is there!

Betta food for flytrapsBetta fish pellets are my personal preference for Venus fly trap food. It may seem like an unusual choice, but there is lengthy discussion on various forums about the benefits of betta fish food for nearly all carnivorous plants. They have provided fantastic results for me! I fed these to my sundews grown from seeds and was so overwhelmed by plants within a year, I had to give away at least half of them! Pellets can be crushed to feed seedlings or young plants. They do need a few drops of water before feeding them to plants. I recommend pellets over flakes mainly for convenience. It’s hard to get a flake on a toothpick! Flakes are also messier and get everywhere. Pellet form is simply easier. Pellets are cheap on Amazonor you can get them at any pet food or fish supply store. One container will certainly last you forever, or at least a year! In my humble opinion, this is definitely the way to go for feeding your plants. Blood Worms

Bloodworms are a lot like betta fish pellets in that they are sold everywhere as fish food and have many of the same nutrients. They are often sold freeze-dried and you will need to get them wet before feeding them to your plants. Again, they are cheaply available on Amazon or your local pet food store. I have no personal experience with using bloodworms as food, but many carnivorous plant growers swear by them. They appear to be a bit more expensive than Betta pellets, but the choice is completely up to you. I’m sure neither feeding method has any significant advantage over the other. It’s just personal preference.

Mealworms can be either fed live or freeze-dried to your plants. Like with the other foods mentioned above, freeze-dried mealworms should be rehydrated in water. Live mealworms can be kept in a refrigerator, and can be Venus Flytrap Mealwormfed kitchen scrap veggies to keep them alive. Keeping them at room temperature will cause them to pupate and turn into beetles, so keep them at your own risk! Some growers who also have reptiles or birds as pets will breed mealworms to keep an abundant food supply. I have read some accounts of mealworms digging and chewing their way out of traps after being fed. Some growers sever the head or put the worm under boiling water for a few seconds to combat this issue. I’m not a squeamish person, but torturing insects is not something I’d personally want to do!

 IMPORTANT final tips!

  1. Make sure your Venus fly trap food is no bigger that 1/3 of the trap you’re feeding. Food that is too big will not create a proper seal and the trap may die or re-open without digesting its meal.
  2. Do not feed your Venus flytraps during dormancy. During this time, the plant is resting and saving all of its energy for the next growing season. The trap will close very slowly, or may not close at all. Save the feeding for the growing season!

So what is your favorite Venus fly trap food? Did I miss something that your plants just love? Leave a comment to let me know! Thanks for reading!

 

53 comments

  1. Linda Meadows says:

    I love your website! This is GREAT information about the Venus Fly Trap. I never knew most of this. I might have to buy one of these plants for my children, and now I know how to keep it alive when there aren’t enough flies around the house.

    • Maria says:

      Thank you so much, Linda! Venus fly traps are great educational tools for kids and are easy to take care of if you know a few basic things. I’ll be adding more care tips to the site very soon. Thanks again!

      • Limara gregory says:

        Hi I have a baby Venus fly trap it’s also winter here so I’m taking it this is the dorment season ? 🙂

        • Maria says:

          Hi Limara! Yes, it is technically the dormant season for them. However, spring is next month, and some plants are starting to wake up already. If your plant isn’t already dormant, you can skip this dormancy and just let it go dormant next winter. 🙂

  2. Ben says:

    Well….. I’m not a carnivorous plant owner, but this post has intrigued me! Thanks for the great information 🙂

  3. Michelle Young says:

    I really liked your post about the Venus Fly Trap, you have given a lot of important information on how to care for it and how to feed it. WOW! Thanks, it was a pleasure to read!

  4. Hayden says:

    I have a small VFT cluster with traps about a half inch long. I gave 5 traps some betta pellets (they were 1/3 the size of the traps) and they looked ok for a few days, and then I noticed 3 out of 5 of the traps have began to develop a black spot with a small hole in the center of the spot. Should I just discontinue feeding until the plants grow a little bit bigger?

    • Maria says:

      Hi Hayden! Yes, I would discontinue feeding for about a month or so. It’s possible to overload the plant on nitrogen. Think of it more like fertilizing. You only need to do it 1 to 2 times a month. Generally, less is more. 🙂

  5. ABBS IS AWESOME HA HA HA HA HA says:

    thank you because i didnt know like any of that and i fed my plant a bug that was sticking out and now its black and now i know that it is dying from too much nutrients. but i have a question: i fed an ant to my fly trap and its been in there for almost a month! i dont know if this is normal. Also the trap is still tightly sealed the whole time too it never opened up it just left the ant in there. Help! what should i do?

    • Maria says:

      Hi Abby! You don’t need to do anything, just let nature run its course. It’s possible that trap leaf was near the end of its life cycle right before capturing the ant, and will die before re-opening. I wouldn’t worry about it! As long as your plant keeps growing new traps, it’s happy and healthy!

  6. Katherine Forrest says:

    I bought a couple of baby venous fly traps and I can’t get them to open up to feed them and also, how do I know when they are in dormancy? Thank you.

  7. Dennis says:

    I read a guy had a ant farm made from a 10 gallon aquarium and bought a VFT but had no food for it handy so he put it in the aquarium and the ants were gone in a month!
    His VFT started with 4 1 inch traps but had 7 when all the ants were gone lol !!

  8. Kanyon Tyner says:

    hi!!!!!how do i know when my traps are in dormancy?and ive been feeding them chopped up crickets and they die.it sucks.help please!!!what are other good food choices?also i did your newsletter thing.so excited for it!!!

    • Maria says:

      Hi Kanyon! Check out this post for what dormancy looks like! Basically, your plants will grow slower and low to the ground, and many of their traps will die back.

      As for food, you may be feeding them too much and overloading on nutrients, or the pieces are too big so the trap can’t seal. Plants also shouldn’t be fed during dormancy, since they’re storing energy and not actively growing. I say give them a break from feeding for a month or two and see how things look then!

  9. Dennis says:

    I used Freeze Dried Bloodworms to feed my Big Jaws VFT before I lost it
    True you will have to rehydrate them before feeding which at first I did not!
    and you will have to gently squeeze the plant to =make it seal.
    But I was putting the plant in water at night so I thought I was ok feeding the plant FDBW’s right from the bottle and it closed but open again in a few days!
    I am a member of the OCPS and a VFT grower told me to add a drop of water t a few and make a sausage from them or a meatball and it stayed closed for 9 days and when it opened again I seen it ate and in a week after feeding I seen a new trap poking through the media!
    FDBW are mosquito larvae rich in Nitrogen and the perfect food for a VFT in my opinion.
    but setting it outside and watching it hunt is the best!!

  10. Anne B says:

    Can you feed the fish pellets/worms etc. to pitcher plants as well as sundew and Venus flytraps? I am guessing that the pellets contain all the nutrients the plants need.
    thank you.

    • Maria says:

      Hi Anne!

      Yes, you absolutely can feed them to pretty much all carnivorous plants! Because betta fish eat insects too, their pellets have many of the same nutrients that plants need. 🙂 Enjoy feeding them!

  11. This is great! I really had no idea how to take care of my carnivorous plants. I kept doing something wrong and killing them. :/ I swore off carnivorous plants, but your information has been so helpful and I might give it another go! I have a betta fish so I already have the pellets if I decide to try again! They are the coolest plant I would love to have around my house!

    • Maria says:

      Glad it’s been helpful to you, Rachel! Carnivorous plants are always worth another try. 🙂

  12. Kevin says:

    Thank you! I love the idea of using beta food and I’m glad to know you’ve had such good results with all of your plants. I have a couple of pitcher plants, a Venus flytrap and a sundew all growing in a 20 gallon aquarium bog garden.

  13. Gage says:

    Fantastic information, Maria! I just got a Venus flytrap for the first time since I was kid, and my kid’s (5 & 2) LOVE it! So I just learned that I overfed it (3 traps in 3 days), and 2 of those traps died. The trap that didn’t die just reopened to reveal the fly looking almost just like it did going in, other than slightly collapsed thorax. So I know it’s a silly question, but should the fly look digested? Does it matter? Thanks!

    Gage

    • Maria says:

      Hi Gage! Glad you and the kids are enjoying flytraps!

      Yes, the flies will look very similar. Their exoskeletons will remain, it’s just their soft insides that get digested. 🙂

      • Deb says:

        What happens to the carcass of the fly after that? Does the trap re-close to take care of the exoskeleton or will it sit there and decompose on its own?

        Thank you for the information on your site. I just bought a baby VFT at a local grocery store and needed better care instructions than were printed on the container, and your site has been very helpful. I have more questions but I will post them in the appropriate articles. Thanks again. 🙂

        • Maria says:

          Hi Deb! The husks are sometimes knocked out of the trap by rain or wind. Sometimes they stay stuck there as the trap keeps catching more food. The trap doesn’t digest the exoskeleton, just the soft insides. 🙂

          • Deb says:

            Thanks for the reply, Maria. I’ve been looking for an article on watering the CP here but can’t seem to find one. I’ve found all sorts of conflicting opinions and want to make sure I do right by my plants. Do you think CP should be left in a tray of standing water or no? I’ve seen this advice, but then some people just bottom water in a tray for about an hour. Then I’ve read that some people just top water every few days as needed. Which watering practice do you find best? Does it depend on the soil medium? Thanks again. 🙂

          • Maria says:

            It depends on the plants and your growing environment. I do leave my Flytraps, sundews and Sarracenia in a couple inches of standing water. This is became I leave them out in the sun all day in a dry climate, and the water helps them keep them a bit cooler and adds a little humidity. If you live somewhere humid or keep plants indoors, you may not need to give them as much water. Best thing to do is keep an eye on them and see what makes them happiest!

  14. Ronni says:

    Would you be willing to sell your Venus Fly Trap seeds when you get them? I want some good quality seeds and can’t find any!

  15. Daniella says:

    Where can i get food for my plant? I live in the mountains and have no flies nor ants around? Is there some where i can buy the bugs at? Your advice will be extreme helpful. I think its at the verge of dieing because its turning black. Does it need to be in a dry/ dark area?

    • Daniella says:

      Im sorry but I have a other question. Can i still safe it if its steam is turning black but not the head of the plant is not? ….

      Thanks again.

      • Maria says:

        I don’t completely understand your question. Black, dying leaves are normal. Individual leaves only live for about 3 months. You can cut them off after they turn completely black, but leave any part that is still green.

    • Maria says:

      Hi Daniella! If you read the post, you’ll see you can buy freeze-dried bloodworms and betta fish pellets very cheaply online.

      Venus flytraps should never be in the dark. They need full sunlight. Check out my other care guides!

    • Maria says:

      Hi Daniella! If you read the post, you’ll see you can buy freeze-dried bloodworms and betta fish pellets very cheaply online.

      Venus flytraps should never be in the dark. They need full sunlight. Check out my other care guides!

  16. Chris says:

    This was great, I saved the link. I’m a succulent grower, but on impulse I got a Venus today, and there’s a beta in the house too! But I want to see it actually eat. I’m going to only feed one mouth at a time, it’s only got 1/2 inch mouths at the most, so it’s still small. There are six active mouths, and small ones growing from the bottom. I’m ashamed to say I got it at Walmart, I feel bad for their plants, as they care for them horribly

  17. Jennie says:

    Brilliant information, I will be getting some different plants now I know how to look after them properly

  18. Alison says:

    Have bought a Venus fly trap which has lots of (mouths) on it. Drink loads of water but does’t seem to eat anything. What can I do x

    • Maria says:

      Hi Alison! If you recently got the plant, it may be in shock due to a new environment. The traps may also be older and die back soon, which is why they won’t trigger to eat. After it spends a month or so adjusting, try feeding the new growth with keeping the above blog post in mind. Good luck!

  19. Alicia says:

    Thank you for this! My daughter got a Venus fly trap at a Harry Potter herbology class & we were having trouble finding dead bugs for it around the house. (I think our cat finds them first.) We got the fish pellets to try today!

  20. Craig Jennings says:

    Ive found That crickets from your local pet shop are really excellent food also you can get them from very miniscule crickets two very large depending on the size of your flyTrap. I noticed about two weeks after feeding that new flytraps come up I’ve seen one of my plants grow 8 to 11 new traps after feedings!

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