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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So, other than the coloring, is there a difference between a "white" skunk and "regular" skunk?

The pupa of a Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) Butterfly photographed in a garden in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Lonnie Huffman, via Wikimedia Commons

The pupal stage of the Varigated Fritillary is a beautiful thing!

Strange Looking Bug

Oct 21, 2016
A Wheel Bug
Ragesoss via Wikimedia Commons

The purpose of the "wheel" or "cog" on a Wheel Bug's back is unknown.

The Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly
By Ryan Hodnett (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly used to be called the Green Jacket dragonfly.

Caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.
Galukalock, via Wikimedia Commons

The caterpillars for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly love to feed on members of the carrot, parsley, and fennel families.

A Devil's Walking Stick with fruit.
Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes called the Devil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa, fruits in the fall in South Carolina. One look at the stem give you a clue as to how it got some of its common names.

A Green Lynx Spider guarding its egg sac.
The Marmot/Flickr

If you see a Green Lynx spider this time of year, it will likely be a female guarding its egg sac.

A Velvet "Ant."
Mark Musselman/USFWS

An old name for this insect is a "Cow Killer" ant; some folks call it a Velvet ant. But, it's actually a wasp that packs a painful sting.

A Writing Spider with its egg sac.
Joyous! via Wikimedia Commons

The signs are there, if you take the time to look.

Smooth Earth Snakes

Oct 11, 2016
A Smooth Earth snake.
Greg Schechter/Flickr

Not a common snake in South Carolina, adult Smooth Earth snakes are often mistaken for "baby" snakes because they are so small.

A Really Big Slug

Oct 7, 2016
Limax maximus
Didier Descouens, via Wikimedia Commons

The limax maximus is a European slug now thriving in South Carolina. And it is truly one big slug!

Fishing Spider with Egg Sac
Ron Knopik/USFWS

The Fishing Spider catches fish and insects for food. And the female carries its egg sac in her jaws.

A Brown Widow spider.
Roy Niswanger/Flickr

The Brown Widow spider is venomous, though not as potent as the Black Widow.

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) in Stone Mountain Park, Georgia.Photo taken in the summer of 2007.
Matt edmonds, via Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful butterfly is quite small.

Puss Caterpillar

The Puss Caterpillar looks soft to the touch. But those "hairs" will sting you.

Poems for Fall

Sep 30, 2016

Rudy shares some Autumnal poems: "Each in his own tongue," William Herbert Carruth; "Autumn," author unknown.

The Ring-neck Snake

Sep 29, 2016
A Southern Ring-neck Snake.

The Southern version of this snake has an interrupted ring around the neck, while the northern one has a solid ring.

Hickory horn devil caterpillar
Terri Sumpter

Once you see one of these, you won't forget it.

Freshwater Bryozoan.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Bryozoan Colonies are common in fresh water.  

The Groundsel Tree

Sep 26, 2016
A Groundsel Tree
Homer Edward Price/Flickr

The Groundsel Tree, sometimes call a Sea Myrtle, is spreading across South Carolina.

The Velvet "Ant"

Sep 23, 2016
A Velvet "Ant."
Mark Musselman/USFWS

This insect is a wasp, but, it's sometimes called a Velvet Ant because of the resemblance of the wingless female.

Welcome to the Equinox

Sep 22, 2016

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.