The pitcher plant is a type of plant that eats insects, also called a carnivorous plant. They are rare, unique and quite interesting. "Regular" plants consume nutrients from the soil, but carnivorous plants are found in nutrient-poor soil. They get their nutrition from insects they "catch," after converting them into a form they can digest or absorb.
Carnivorous plants have a variety of methods to get prey: Pitfall traps (like the pitcher plant), snap traps (like the venus flytraps) and flypaper traps (like sundews) are just a few. In North America there are 10 known species in the genus Sarracenia, the pitcher plants. Sarracenia purpurea is probably the most common.
According to the International Carnivorous Plant Society, pitcher plants of the genus Sarracenia are found in the eastern United States, from the southeast and along the coastline up through British Columbia.
Pitcher plants are mostly found in bogs, often in the wettest sections. Although they don't require acidic soil, they are well-adapted to nutrient-poor and acidic dirt. They live in areas that are prone to fires, and can survive fire under some circumstances.
Pitcher plants resemble their name: they look like pitchers. Inside the elongated structure is a pool of water. Decaying insects that have been trapped inside, along with nectar from the "lid," attract flies, beetles, butterflies and other insects to the plant. The plant's flowers are the color of raw meat, which further serves to attract flies.
Once inside, many insects find it difficult to exit the structure, so they eventually drown in the liquid. The interior walls are waxy and slippery, and there are hairs toward the top that aid in keeping the prey trapped. The plant's enzymes digest the meal and the plant is then able to absorb the nutrients.
While pitcher plants make lovely houseplants, it's not a good idea to harvest them from the wild since some species have become extinct this way. Instead, get them through a nursery. They are best-suited to bog gardens and indoor terrariums, and they require sunlight and a mildly acidic soil.
Some insects and animals live harmoniously with pitcher plants. Some predators, like spiders, use the lid to hide under, and some insect larvae, like mosquitoes, live inside the pitcher plant itself. Ants that die inside the plant are used for their decaying scent to attract other prey. Sometimes small frogs will hide in pitcher plants, eating flies that are attracted to the plant.