Rudy Mancke


Naturalist Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene which began it's long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Before coming to television, Rudy served as the natural history curator at the South Carolina State Museum for 10 years, and was a high school biology and geology teacher. He earned a degree at Wofford College, attended graduate school at the University of South Carolina, and received honorary doctorate degrees from the College of Charleston, Winthrop College, and Wofford College.

Rudy Mancke currently hosts NatureNotes on both SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio.

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Welcome to the Equinox

8 hours ago

Happy Autumnal Equinox!  

Good Camouflage

Sep 21, 2016
The larva of a Lacewing Butterfly. The dead carcasses of its prey together with its molts and dirt are massed on its body to camouflage.

The larva of the Lacewing Butterfly carries a lot of "trash" around, but, it's for camouflage.

A Thread-Waisted Wasp
Jon Richfield, via Wikimedia Commons

A listener spots a Thread-Waisted Wasp stuffing a caterpillar into a hole in the dirt. The caterpillar, paralyzed but alive, will provide food for the wasp's larva when it hatches.

A female wolf spider with her babies.
Valerius Geng, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wolf Spider carries her egg sack on her back. And, for a while after the eggs hatch, her young will hitch a ride with mom.

An Eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus).
Kara Jones/Flickr

The Eastern Worm Snake, which burrows, can be mistaken for worms.

A Potter Wasp nest.
Sharon Suzuki-Martinez/Flickr

The Potter Wasp makes nests that look a lot like a human-made, clay pot.

Running Club-Moss, Lycopodium clavatum L. Location: Appalachians; Shenandoah Mt.
Jason Hollinger/Flickr

  A listener spots  "Ground Pine,"  or "Ground Cedar," which is actually a moss, commonly called a Club-Moss.

A black (melanistic) Eastern Hognose Snake.
Patrick Coin via Wikimedia Commons

The Hognose Snake, Heterodon platirhinos, come in several colors: reds, greens, oranges, browns, to melanistic (i.e. black).

Imperial Moths mating.
National Park Service/Kent Walters

  Many listeners are reporting sightings of the beautiful Imperial Moth in South Carolina, often in mating pairs.

Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell Turtle
James Harding/

The Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell Turtle leaves the water to lay eggs.

The Blobs

Sep 8, 2016
Freshwater Bryozoan.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

These jelly-like blobs can be found in clean, freshwater habitats. Called Bryozoans, they are actually colonies of very small animals.

The Northern Black Widow spider is usually found in the mid-Atlantic states.
Marshal Hedin, via Wikimedia Commons

The female Southern Black Widow spider is black with the red, hour-glass shaped marking on its back. The male--which is no danger to humans--has a red stripe on its back. And the Northern Black Widow has different markings all together.  

This is the time of year when snakes are born or hatched, and you can sometimes find the young ones in odd places.

  A listener finds a snake in a pile of dead and the snake vibrates the tip of its tail. In the leaves, it sounds like a "rattle." Do some snakes mimic rattlesnakes?

A Good Year for Moths

Sep 2, 2016
Nessus Sphinx Moth
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, via Wikimedia Commons

Listeners report sightings of two of South Carolina's most striking moths.

A March Brown Mayfly.
Richard Bartz, via Wikimedia Commons

  Mayflies spend most of their lives in the water.

Thomas Shahan, via Wikimedia Commons

Two listeners report sightings of mating Robber Flies.

Cicada-Killer Wasps

Aug 30, 2016
A Cicada Killer Wasp with a Cicada.
Bill Buchanan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  Cicada-Killer wasps, solitary insects that rarely bother humans, have been numerous in South Carolina this year.

A listener reports walking on the beach and finding a "fossil-like" object.

An Odd Looking Pair

Aug 25, 2016
A male Golden Silk Orb Weaver (top) is a lot smaller than a female .
Coveredinsevindust, via Wikimedia Commons

The female Golden Silk Orb Weaver spider gets pretty large. The male? Not so much.