Content about nature

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.

The Toadfish is Common in South Carolina

Aug 26, 2016
An Oyster Toadfish, caught in Charleston Bay near the Cooper River.
Donald West

A listener on Edisto Island finds a strange looking fish in his crab trap. It's commonly called an Oyster Toadfish.

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.

A Land Planarian
Bernard DuPont via Wikimedia Commons

The Land Planarian was introduced to the United States from Malaysia.


Southern Copperhead
Michael Page, 06-27-09, Atlanta, Georgia

  Rudy Mancke says he's seen more Copperheads out and about this year than any year he can remember.

Spiny Backed Orb Weaver
Markrosenrosen/Wikimedia Commons

A listener says his find looks like a "crustacean/arachnid." You can see why; the Spiny Backed Orb Weaver is a unique looking spider.  

Mediterranean Gecko

Aug 19, 2016
A Mediterranean Gecko.
Nathan Vaughn/Flickr

As the name implies, the Mediterranean Gecko is an introduced species that moved inland from port cities.

A juvenile Black Rat Snake.
Mark Moran/

A midnight intruder gets caught in a trap meant for his prey.


Aug 17, 2016
An Owlfly

Contrary to what the name implies, Owlflies are not true flies. 

A Swallow Tailed Kite
Joe Nicholson,

Listeners have been reporting Swallowtail Kites in unexpected regions.

Tubifex Worms

Aug 15, 2016

Tubifex worms are very common, though not often noticed. These fresh-water creatures are cultivated and dried for sale as fish or turtle food.  

Timber Rattlesnakes

Aug 12, 2016
A timber rattlesnake.
Ltshears/Trisha M Shears, via Wikimedia Commons

The Timber rattlesnake can be found in the mountains of South Carolina and along the Savannah River. They also seem to be moving into the Piedmont.


Aug 11, 2016
A Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (male) on a Buttonbush.
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

The Buttonbush is a favorite of butterflies.

A Green Roach?

Aug 10, 2016
Green-leaf or Green Banana cockroaches, Panchlora nivea, at Cincinnati Zoo.
Ltshears, via Wikimedia Commons

A listener reports finding two green cockroaches. What...?!

Snake Rescue

Aug 9, 2016

  A listener reports finding a juvenile Black Racer where it didn't belong. He lent it a helping hand.

NatureNotes is now entering its 18th year!


A Regal Moth.
Kadoka1 via Wikimedia Commons

The beautiful, Regal moth lives throughout the state, but is not often seen.

Spitting Spiders

Aug 4, 2016
A Spitting spider.
André Karwath, via Wikimedia Commons

This spider "spits" out silk to capture prey.

Look, But Don't Touch!

Aug 3, 2016
A Green Crowned Slug caterpillar.
Benny Mazur, via Wikimedia Commons

Whenever you see spines or bristles on slugs or caterpillars, it's best not to touch them because you may well get stung.

Northern Scarlet Snake.
Glenn Bartolotti, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike the Coral King Snake, the bands on the Northern Scarlet Snake don't go all the way around its body.  

Worms in the Surf?

Aug 1, 2016
Three, live Clam Worms (nautiliniellid worms), recovered on the Windows to the Deep 2003: Exploration of the Blake Ridge cruise.
Courtesy of Jennifer Dreyer, Windows to the Deep 2003: Exploration of the Blake Ridge, NOAA-OER.

In its reproductive stage, clam worms leave the safety of their habitat, often in great numbers. Not much is known about the mutual relationship between the worms with their host clam.

American Lady

Jul 29, 2016
The caterpillar of the American Lady butterfly.
Wilson44691, via Wikimedia Commons

A listener finds cocoons for the caterpillar of the American Lady butterfly.

A Mean Looking Fly

Jul 28, 2016
A Scorpion Fly.
Bob Warrick, via Wikimedia Commons

  The Scorpion Fly looks like a tough customer, but, it doesn't sting people.

Giant Orb Weavers

Jul 27, 2016

A Hilton Head Island listener finds a Giant Orb Weaver spider, nowhere near its web.