What to Feed and Not to Feed a Venus flytrap- Complete List

There is a long list of food you can and can’t feed your Venus flytrap. I have grown Venus flytraps for over three years, and over time I have learned what works and what doesn’t. In this article, I share my advice.

Insects and spiders are suitable food options for Venus flytraps. The best feed alternatives are small live bugs that contain high nutrients. Freeze-dried insects are also an alternative. Always avoid feeding human food to Venus flytraps.

Venus flytraps do not need to consume insects to survive. However, consuming prey gives them extra nutrients, which fuel the plant to grow and divide. I have noticed many positive effects in Venus flytraps that consume insects frequently.

Make sure you choose an appropriate meal for your plant by learning about suitable options. Read each of the lists below for a successful feeding!

List of Food Options for Venus Flytrap

As you might notice from the list below, many arthropods are suitable to feed for Venus flytraps. Also, some less conventional options include plant food. Make sure to read the text below the list to learn which are the best and most practical alternatives for your specific scenario.

  • Flies
  • Cricket
  • Mealworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Fruit flies
  • Gnats
  • Ants
  • Rollie pollies
  • Beetles
  • Spiders
  • Ladybugs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mosquitos
  • Fish pellets

The list above is not comprehensive. It contains a list of many suitable food options, but almost any bug will do. Still, I tried to keep the list short and emphasize the most common insects you can find around your home, garden, or in a park. The trick is to find an insect that is small enough to fit entirely inside the trap. Also, preferably, you want to choose food that contains a lot of soft tissue and little to no hard shells.

Do Venus Flytraps eat flies? Venus flytraps consume flies in real life. Venus flytraps attract flies with sweet nectar and trap them with their leaves. Then, they secrete enzymes to drown and consume the flies. Besides flies, Venus flytraps also consume many other types of insects and spiders.

Cricket, mealworms, and bloodworms are top food options for Venus flytraps and most carnivorous plants. They contain high protein content and a lot of soft tissue. All three can be purchased online or at pet stores. Generally, there are two options: live and freeze-dried bugs.

Can venus flytraps eat dead bugs? Dead bugs are suitable to feed Venus flytraps. The process of employing dead feed is slightly more challenging than using live bugs. Dead bugs can be found in gardens or homes and bought in pet stores; some standard options are crickets, mealworms, bloodworms, and fruit flies.

Live and dead bugs will work for Venus flytraps. Both options are almost equally nutritious. However, employing dead bugs is less natural. Therefore it requires you to add a few extra steps to the feeding process to trick your plant into consuming a dead bug. For example, you will have to rehydrate the insect with distilled water.

What You Should Never Feed Venus Flytrap

With so much misinformation out there about what to feed Venus flytraps. I felt highly compelled to emphasize what you should never feed your Venus flytrap:

  • Hamburger
  • Chicken
  • Sausage
  • Salami
  • Raw meat
  • Candy
  • Fruit
  • Steak
  • Hotdog
  • Cheese
  • Any animal that is not an insect or a spider

Can Venus flytraps eat human food? Human food is not appropriate for Venus flytraps or any carnivorous plants. Venus flytraps won’t be able to consume such complex food. Instead, after an unsuccessful digestion attempt, the leaf withers, and the food rots, attracting mold and bacteria.

Can Venus flytraps eat animals other than insects? Venus flytraps can digest meat from tiny animals such as rodents, birds, or frogs. However, this behavior is not very common. The diet of Venus flytraps in the wild is made up primarily of insects.

Never attempt to feed any animals besides insects or spiders to your Venus flytrap. Even though they can digest meat, the plant will most likely be unsuccessful at digesting the whole animal. And you will end up with a rotting trap.

Insects You Should Avoid Feeding to Venus Flytraps

Venus flytrap can consume almost any insect. However, some bugs are not the most suitable options. Here is a list of which ones to avoid:

  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Caterpillars

Snails are not recommended to use as food for Venus flytraps. The plant won’t be able to digest the shell. And, only tiny snails will fit properly inside a Venus flytrap.

Can Venus flytraps eat slugs or caterpillars? Venus flytraps can consume slugs and caterpillars, but these insects present a challenge for Venus flytraps. Strong and desperate slugs or caterpillars can potentially eat their way out of the trap. Also, if the bug scapes, it can end up consuming the plant.

Venus Flytrap Feeding Instructions

Without proper instructions, it is not recommended to feed Venus flytraps. Feeding your plant incorrectly can end up harming it. For that reason, you must make sure to go over all of this information.

Venus flytrap capture and consume bugs to extract key nutrients. Such nutrients provide an extra boost for the plant but are not required for the plant’s survival, as most food is produced through photosynthesis.

Outdoors Venus flytraps can consume their own prey. And, sometimes indoors, they might have access to the occasional insect. Venus flytraps do not need a large number of insects to stay healthy. Sporadically feeding a venus flytrap can make a big difference, as long as done correctly.

Feeding Venus flytraps is a straightforward process that can improve the health of your plant if done correctly. These tips will help you ensure you do not make any beginner mistakes:

  • Always employ small insects that are a maximum of 1/2 of the size of the trap.
  • There is no need to feed venus fly traps when they live outdoors and have access to insects
  • Only feed one trap in the whole plant at a time
  • Feed a single bug once every 2-6 weeks
  • Avoid feeding venus fly traps during dormancy

The list below outlines the steps to feed a live bug to a Venus flytrap. You can also watch the video to get a live demonstration of the feeding process.

  1. Select an appropriate insect; one that has high nutritional content and can fit inside the trap of your plant.
  2. Locate the trigger hairs in your Venus flytrap. They are three thin filaments in each lobe of the trap.
  3. Use tweezers or your hands to grab the insect.
  4. Place the bug inside the lobes of your Venus flytrap. Make sure the bug is placed in the center.
  5. Brush the trigger hairs in the trap at least 2 times. After two touches the Venus flytrap should close on the insect.
  6. Wait until the trap closes and monitor it for the next 2-5 minutes. After a few minutes, the trap should be fully close.
  7. The venus flytrap start digesting the bug, it won’t reopen until at least a few days or a couple of weeks.

Leaves in Venus flytraps are ready to capture bugs when they just open. Then, after closing and reopening multiple times, leaves become exhausted and stop closing. When a leaf does not close, it is not a sign of poor health. It is completely normal behavior.

This article contains a summary of how to feed a Venus flytrap. However, there are more details to keep in consideration. Read the complete venus flytrap feeding guide to get all the information you need. And, check out my YouTube channel for more live examples: Venus Flytrap World.

How to Avoid Black Leaves After Feeding Venus Flytraps

Sometimes after feeding a venus flytrap, their leaves turn black. Why does that happen? And how should you prevent it? Here is an explanation.

Venus flytraps, like any other plants, shed leaves. When leaves get very old, they start to blacken or brown on the edges. Then, after a few days, the leaf ends up withering completely and turning to a dark, deep black color.

Even though most leaves wither due to natural causes, feeding a venus flytrap incorrectly can cause black leaves.

Employing a very large bug, overfeeding, or feeding during the incorrect season can cause black leaves in Venus flytraps. When the plant cannot digest its prey, it will let its leaves wither to save energy. Black leaves can be prevented by following certain care considerations.

Black leaves can be avoided by always employing an insect that fits entirely inside a trap, also by only feeding one trap at a time, and never feeding Venus flytraps during dormancy or when they are sick.

After feeding your plant, monitor the leaf you fed until digestion is complete. Then, you can verify the leaf remains healthy and ready for more bugs.

Other practices besides the feeding process can cause black leaves in Venus flytraps. For example, employing the incorrect water type, exerting too much stress, or unnecessary repotting can cause your plant to lose traps.

This section covered a short overview of the matter. But, there is a full article that can help you avoid black leaves from feeding your plant. Here is a link to that resource: Do Venus Flytraps Die After They Eat (plus easy fixes)

I love growing carnivorous plants and hope you can always keep your plants thriving. Here are some key articles you can read to ensure your plants stay healthy.

For general Venus flytrap care, you can download this care sheet: Venus Flytrap Care 101.

If you plan on growing Venus flytraps indoors, make sure you read this guide: How to Successfully Grow Venus Flytraps Indoors.


My name is Nelly, and I am the owner of Venus Flytrap World. Growing carnivorous plants is a unique and rewarding experience. A few years ago, I started growing Venus flytraps and experimenting with other carnivorous plant species. I have done tons of research to perfect my setup and care practices. In this site, I share everything I have learned.

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