It’s been three months since I set up my iTerrarium. I must be doing something right, because the Nepenthes alata has developed two fully-formed pitchers (front and rear in the photo), with a third (to the right) on the way.
I was advised by Paul Riddell, the iTerrarium’s creator and curator of the Texas Triffid Ranch, that the plant would need feeding once the second pitcher was fully developed. The absence of any fungus gnats in the chamber indicated that The Maws of Doom (I went with the obscure reference instead of the more geekily obvious Sarlacc or Audrey Jr.) was getting hungry.
Paul told me the ideal food was pinhead (size, not mental capacity) crickets, but the only crickets I could find were either full-sized and freeze dried, or tiny but packed in a can of cooking liquid. I have a lot of weird stuff in my fridge, but I draw the line at slowly rotting cooked baby crickets. It was time to go to plan B.
That’s right, delicious, delicious meal worms. As Paul explained: “It’s not a good idea to feed mealworms to reptiles because the mealworms’ shells are indigestible, but that’s not a problem for a pitcher plant. The shells simply build up in the bottom and get worked over by a variety of bacteria, rotifers, and other life forms.” Mmmmâ€¦ bacteria and rotifersâ€¦
So Sunday was TMOD’s first solid food feeding:
I placed one mealworm in each pitcher, a much tidier and quieter procedure than the last “first solid food” event at Chez Belm, which involved hosing down He Who Will Not Be Ignored and wiping tomato sauce off of every surface of the Research Kitchen.
I can add another successful biology project to the slowly growing list (pitcher plant, bonsai garden, betta tank, yeast culture, ten-year-old child) at Belm Laboratories. Who knows what will be next? Does anyone have a source for giant squid?