Phenomena

Sundews Weaponize Viscoelasticity

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In nutrient-poor soils, carnivorous plants like the cape sundew supplement their diets by eating insects. To entice their prey, the cape sundew secretes droplets of sugary water. But unwary insects who land to feed soon find themselves unable to pull away from this viscoelastic liquid. Complex molecules in the fluid grant it elasticity, so when insects pull against it, the liquid stretches and pulls back instead of breaking up. Other carnivorous plants, like the pitcher plant, use similar non-Newtonian tricks to trap insects. (Video and image credit: Deep Look)

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