Utricularia vulgaris is a plant that lives in pond water. When ready to bloom, they create little air-sacs on their roots and float on the water surface. When pollinated, they drift underwater like seasonal submarines.

All Utricularia are carnivorous and capture small organisms by means of bladder-like air traps. Terrestrial species tend to have tiny traps that feed on minute prey swimming in water-saturated soil. The traps can range in size from 0.2 mm to 1.2 cm. The Utricularia vulgaris possess bladders that are usually larger and can feed on more substantial prey such as water fleas, nematodes, mosquito larvae and young tadpoles.

Once the little critter is inside, the utricle shuts it trap door. Business as usual for the carnivorous plants, the utricle excretes digestive enzymes to digest and consume the broken down organic compounds from their trapped meals. This amazing and unique plant adaptation, not only can do all this, but it can pump out the water to kill its’ prey quickly, start digesting it, and reset its trap in 2 hours while still digesting for maximum food intake.

The ability to create self-sufficient floating devices could be great to prevent water based accidents.

Image courtesy: Barry Rice, SEINet