Will a Carnivorous Pitcher Plant Solve VICE's Fly Problem? An Investigation
An attempt to weaponize mother nature against the VICE office's fly infestation.
Image: Jason Koebler
Beside some Kit-Kat wrappers, a bent-in-half iMac keyboard, nine copies of Thursday's New York Times (long story), and many, many pages of scientific reports sits my Cerebrus—a three-headed carnivorous plant that, through thousands of years of evolution, has adapted to guard my desk from the plague of houseflies that has infested the VICE office.
Presumably, the flies came from outside (where bugs normally live) to inside (where I and other innocent journalists tap away at our keyboards) via the giant garage-door style opening between our lobby and our roof. Rather than sit idly by while these big-eyed freaks interrupt our content creation, I decided to Be The Change I wanted to see in this world.
I began to explore my options.
"Venus fly traps kick ass. when i was 3, my mom got me a flytrap, and it ate fries," someone named Hippie John wrote in an incredibly informative post on the Grass City marijuana forums in 2003.
Another user suggested acquiring a frog, while yet another anti-fly-but-pro-weed denizen of the forums had a clever idea: "have u ever tryed getting them stoned? the flys not the plants. i swear to god they move slower after u've sat in ur grow and had a j."
My attempt to buy a frog was a hilarious failure and VICE doesn't like drugs, so I decided to go with a carnivorous plant.
Further internet research uncovered the sad fact that venus fly traps can only eat a couple flies per month, tops. Barry Rice of the International Carnivorous Plant Society noted that "usually the people who have so many flies that they are looking for weird solutions like Venus flytraps have far too many bothersome flies harassing them for a few plants to do the job."
Still, I thought I'd be remiss to not give carnivorous plants a try. We don't have that many flies, and I became very interested in carnivorous plants a few years ago after interviewing Peter D'Amato, author of The Savage Garden, a carnivorous plant growing guide and easily the most metal gardening book of all time.
I told D'Amato of our plight, and, in an email titled "flies," he noted that "the only plants that can effectively catch flies indoors are the trumpet varieties of American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia, like species flava, rubra, etc.) … Hope this helps. Seeya."
And so I went to the plant store and bought a pitcher plant. In the hours after I purchased it, I heard reports of flies tickling its slippery slippery pitchers and somehow evading its grasp. I fully expected to return in the morning to several flies slowly being digested like Boba Fett in the Sarlacc pit.
And yet it appears I have put my eggs in the wrong proverbial pitcher; my guardian has captured nary one single housefly in the week since I have called upon it to rid me of the pestering pests that pester me. The flies—they still buzz.