Content about nature

May Apple

May 14, 2015
May Apple
Virginia State Parks staff (Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Rudy identifies a plant, with "umbrella-shaped leaves,"that a listener found near Ft. Mill, SC.

"Brains on the beach"

May 13, 2015
Sea Pork
Andrea Westmoreland/Flickr

  A listener found something on Hunting Beach State Park that looked like "brains." It's a colony of animals with the common name Sea Pork.

A Red-bellied Snake

May 12, 2015
Red Bellied Snake
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

The Red-bellied Snake is not harmful to humans, doesn't grow very large, and is a beautiful animal.


Starfish Stinkhorn Mushroom
Mike Young [CC BY 3.0 US] via Wikipedia

  The Starfish Stinkhorn Mushroom is an Australian species that has found its way here.

By Greg Hume (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We recently had a “relaxed format” Making It Grow show in Lake City as part of that city’s major cultural event, ArtFields. The logo for this annual exhibit of Southeastern art   is a dandelion. Here’s part of what the ArtFields brochure says about this lovely plant.

Shademaster Honey Locust
USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Since we southerners are so interested in family names, let’s examine the history of the name for SHADEMASTER honey LOCUST Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Shademaster' . The genus name, Gleditsia, honors the German botanist of the 18th century named Gottlieb Gleditsch. Now the fun begins – triacanthos means “three spines” referring to the spines that grow out of the trunks of most honeylocust trees.

Rudy Mancke

  Rudy shares one of his poems, "The woods were Springtime green today..."

'Sunburst' Honeylocust in Elko Nevada" by
Famartin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
John Harrison/Flickr

  Listeners, and Rudy, too, have been noticing a lot of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks among the throngs of spring birds returning to South Carolina.

Bull Nettle Fruit

May 6, 2015
Mature Bull Nettle Fruit
Missouri State University

Bull Nettle, or Horse Nettle, fruit is poisonous. The plant is in the Nightshade family.


Honey Locust pods
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My favorite professor at Clemson, Dr. David Bradshaw, told wonderful stories about his grandfather who was a true naturalist just from living a life so connected to the land and knowing so many uses for the plants and animals found near his home. When we studied honeylocust, gleditsia triacanthos, David told us that the sweet substance found lining the pods that gives rise to the honey part of the common name had such a high sugar content that his grandfather used it to make beer.

Midland Water Snake, Lancaster, SC, 2004
Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

A listener reports an immature Midland Water Snake found in the office.

American White Pelican
By Dick Daniels (

  There has been an increase in sightings of White Pelicans in South Carolina.

Thorns of the Honey Locust tree
Rei at the English language Wikipedia

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you’re in one of the great swampy areas in South Carolina and the water starts to rise or a feral hog is chasing you, for the love of Pete do not climb a Gleditsia aquatica, or swamp locust. Dr. John Nelson recently brought photographs of this tree, found in wet places in the SE as well as his back yard, to the show for a mystery plant. It has clusters of fierce, sharp, long spines growing out of the trunk and would be impossible to safely climb.

Tomato Hornworm
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some caterpillars that look incredibly frightening are actually harmless! The tomato hornworm which is not only huge  up to four inches long (after he eats half a tomato plant in one night) but also has a big horn on its rear end. Fortunately, they are  all show and can’t do you any harm if you hand pick them   (the best control method). Nature helps control these caterpillars, too by providing braconid wasps who lay their eggs on this juicy piece of meat.

Saddleback caterpillar
Gerald J. Lenhard, Louiana State Univ / ©, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Most caterpillars are pretty recognizable as just that – the larva of a butterfly or moth. They have a head and thorax and usually some feet-like protrusions called prolegs. But one group, the slug moths, are among the most famous of the stinging caterpillars and the weirdest looking. Their head is not distinctly separate from the rest of their body and they have suckers-like structures for feet.

Some young, Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers found in a listener's back yard...

Walking on Folly Beach, a listener makes an unusual fish.

Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar
Terri Sumpter

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  A few years ago, my neighbor across the street brought over a shoe box with a fearful looking creature in it. It was the most beautiful and exotic looking caterpillar I’d ever seen. We identified him as a hickory horn devil who eats pecan, hickory and even baldcypress and pine needles! My fellow Extension Agent Terri Sumpter took a photograph of this magnificent fellow walking on my hand and if you go to Making It Grow’s facebook page you can see him in all his glory!

This is a fungus you will smell before you see it...

Setae on Oak Processional Caterpillars
By Kleuske via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! If you haven’t put your wool sweaters and jackets up in moth balls,  you better get with the program! Making It Grow’s go to gal for insect questions, Vicky Bertagnolli, recently reminded us that moths are out doing there thing-laying eggs that develop into caterpillars. For most of us, this is only a problem if we forget to protect our wool clothes, but some caterpillars are actually dangerous. Fortunately, they warn us to keep away by their striking hairy bodies.

Diamondback Terrapin
Mary Hollinger, NODC biologist, NOAA

  An unusual find, a Diamondback Terrapin, is discovered on the coast.

Rudy shares the inspiring  words of Walt Whitman, "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer."

Tussock moth caterpillar
Wikipeida: Ryan Hodnett

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Oh, the mysterious things that come to our office in pill bottles! Last week, we had a hairy caterpillar to ID, it was found munching on a rose leaf so our first thought was “the stinging rose caterpillar.” Caterpillars are juicy treats for birds and an extremely important food source for feeding young birds who need lots of protein and fat to grow. Some Lepidopteran larva have developed hairs called setae to defend themselves. These hollow hairs connect to glands that produce a poison, when an animal touches these hairs they break and release a toxin that causes a reaction. I sent a picture of our caterpillar to Making It Grow’s insect specialist Vicky Bertagnolli who said it was not a rose caterpillar but a Tussock moth, in the genus Orgyia, but, it too, is indeed a stinger.

Sighted in Hampton Park, Charleston: a long necked bird that swam mostly submerged.

The Eastern King Snake feeds on venomous snakes.

Happy Earth Day 2015

Apr 22, 2015

Rudy wishes us a happy Earth Day.

A listener reports a "crazy snail" in his driveway and wonders what kind it is.

The large tooth on this jaw is a "dead give away" as to the animal's identity.

Rudy Mancke remembers the late USC professor Wade Batson.