There's no escaping this plant's chamber of horrors

There's no escaping this plant's chamber of horrors
The Darlingtonia State Natural Site is just north of Florence off Highway 101. The botanical area is home to a carnivorous plant that eats insects. Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com.

FLORENCE, Ore. - Poor little bug.

Imagine - you smell something sweet and you're drawn to it. Who wouldn't be?

You find a hidden hole where the smell is coming from and you think you've found heaven. So you enter.

But it's a fatal move.

Suddenly, it's all so confusing. Everything around you looks like an exit, but it isn't. You can't find your way out - you're trapped.

And then you fall down a long tube. You can't crawl out and long hairs push you down into a pool of water.

There is no escape. There is no saving you. You are a goner.

You see, that 'water' you fell in to? It's filled with bacteria that decomposes you and turns you into nitrogen. You are now plant food.

That's what it's like to be eaten by a Darlingtonia californica (aka cobra lily). It's a somewhat odd-looking plant that eats insects and can be found along the Oregon Coast - just off Highway 101 north of Florence.

The Darlingtonia californica is the only member of the pitcher plant family that you'll find here in Oregon. Pitcher plants are carnivorous - they lure their victims with something irresistible and then use what's called a 'pitfall trap' to snare their meal.

Fortunately, I'm not an insect so I survived my visit to the Darlingtonia State Natural Site. And you will too. It's an intriguing pit stop along Highway 101 and worth a look if you've never seen it. A super short hike down a trail to a boardwalk gets you there.