I am SERIOUSLY annoyed. F*ck whoever did the screen writing to this video. Nearly everything that voiceover is giving us as “scientific” information is utter bullshit - except the very basic fact that the plant is a white collared pitcher plant (Nepenthes albomarginata W.Lobb ex Lindl.) attracting termites.
Whoever produced this sh*t shall be flogged with cotton balls until he or she begs for mercy giggling.
I seriously thought the Smithsonian was a venerable institution of scientific exploration and education. I am very disappointed, and not for the first time.
To get this straight: Termites do not hunt for food, they forage.The termites here are attracted by the white collar, which is high in protein, a ressource in short supply for all termites - and also for the pitcher plants. They can only afford to present the protein bait precisely because they feed on insects, which are a source of protein and phosphorus to it. The termites don’t slip on nectar, and are not at all attracted by nectar. They slip because the surface has a very interesting nanostructure, and can not climb out because the pitcher is covered on the inside with another very interesting nanostructure. The pitcher is not filled with acid, not even a slightly acidic pH. Also, it does not contain rain water, it even has a (N.B., fixed, not movable) lid to prevent downwatering of it’s digestive coctail by rain. The plant produces enzymes which slowly digest it’s prey, and it surely cannot eat 6000 insects an hour - it takes weeks to digest any insect falling in, and the chitinous carapaxes are not digested at all.
Bonus: the plant shown at 1:14m is N. bicalcarata, which indeed offers nectar to visitors (in that case, most likely wasps, and particularly not the beautiful heteropter bug shown). At 1:25m, we have N. albomarginata again, at 1:32m we have N. ampullaria which indeed is filled by rainwater, because the lid grows backwards compared to the direction in most pitcher plants. Of course, all those plants have slightly different diets, and while I agree that most use similar tricks to tend prey, especially the case of N. albomargianta shows that there is quite some level of evolutionary variability in their ‘tricks’.
The grashopper and the bug shown to drop in have most likely been placed there by the film crew, because they are not attracted to Nepenthes and are thus rarely found in the pitchers.
Bottom line: never let facts get in the way of a good story, Smithsonian? Shame on you!