After spending 25 years in the Harris County Precinct 4 Parks Department, Mike Howlett and his wife, Stephanie Howlett, turned the lure of carnivorous plants into their livelihood.

“I’m a herpetologist by trade, so I used to do a lot of nature education,” Mike said. “But I always had [people] say, ‘It’s so easy to get kids interested in animals. How do we get them interested in plants?’”

So Mike began selling carnivorous plants—plants that eat animals—through his reptile business. In 2007, he bought the Pet Fly Trap brand from its previous owners and rebuilt the business.

Now, the couple operates one of the largest online carnivorous plant nurseries in the U.S., Mike said. With only one part-time staff member, the couple tends to more than 20,000 plants daily in their Spring home’s backyard and greenhouse, including sundews, pitcher plants, butterworts and bladderworts as well as Venus flytraps, one of the most recognizable carnivorous plants.

Harvesting carnivorous plants from the wild is illegal, so the Howletts import their plants from all over the world and clone them—a process that takes about a year but results in hundreds of plants.

“With these plants coming in from all over the world and in different habitats, if there’s a place you want to grow a plant, there’s a carnivorous plant that can be grown there,” Mike said.

While online orders can be placed for curbside pickup on Sundays and Tuesdays, Pet Fly Trap also ships plants nationwide. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent rise of online shopping, Stephanie said business has skyrocketed, allowing the couple to donate more money to local homeless shelter Hope Center Houston and other nonprofit organizations.

Once COVID-19 vaccines are more widespread, the Howletts said they are looking forward to hosting more educational workshops and field trips to share their carnivorous plant knowledge with the community.

“To me, it’s not about owning a business at all,” Stephanie said. “Working with plants is great, [but] learning about supporting a life, teaching about wetland [loss] and preservation—that’s the why.”

Pet Fly Trap

3826 Mossy Oaks Road E., Spring


Hours: Curbside pickup for online orders is available Sundays and Tuesdays by appointment only due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.