Content about nature

A common whitetail dragonfly, male.
Bruce Marlin, via Wikimedia Commons

    You'll find plenty of common whitetail dragonflies in South Carolina in the Spring--especially near water.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Paper wasps which build open-celled upside-down, umbrella-shaped nests and bald-faced hornets (which are actually above ground versions of yellow jackets) and build large, football-shaped nests, have many similarities. Both chew vegetation or soft wood, mixed with saliva, to construct their nests. The adults feed on nectar and some insects.

Canebrake Rattlesnakes

May 4, 2016
A Canebrake Rattlesnake.
Ltshears, via Wikimedia Commons

In the Spring, if you see one juvenile canebrake rattlesnake, be careful--there may be more.

Paper Wasps

May 4, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Paper wasps are a plague to southerners with porches and old-fashioned trim wooden trim work, especially which needs painting, on their houses. These social insects (ie defenders of their colonies) build relatively small nests that look like a suspended, open, upside down umbrella and usually contain from 50 to 75 individual cells in which the young develop. The adults, which mostly dine on nectar, collect and digest insects, especially caterpillars, to feed to the developing larvae.

Fringe Trees

May 3, 2016
A fringe tree.
Jay Sturner/Flickr

Fringe trees can bloom abundantly in South Carolina, especially  during a wet Spring.

It’s the first week of May and you know what that means: Sea Turtle nesting season has begun!  Typically, you’ll see loggerhead turtles on the South Carolina coast, but our coast offers natural habitat for Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, and Green Sea Turtles as well.  All seven species of sea turtle are on the Endangered or Threatened species lists and are protected by federal and state laws.  

The green tree frog can sometimes have a blue or gray cast.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Green and gray tree frogs are common in South Carolina.

Bald Face Hornets

May 2, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I get paper wasps and baldfaced hornets mixed up. Paper wasps build small nests with open, visible cells that hang from the corner of the porch. Baldfaced hornets build those magnificent foot-ball shaped nests that hang from branches. Since they aren’t reused – only a mated female overwinters – people collect them and use them as fascinating natural decorations in dens or casual family rooms.

A Carolina wren.
Dan Pancamo/Flickr

  A listener finds a Carolina wren's nest in his barbeque grill.

  A listener watches as a female opossum works to gather material for nesting.

A chinaberry tree.
Paolo Fisicaro, via Wikimedia Commons

  The chinaberry tree seems to be everywhere in South Carolina, especially around older homestead. It's natvie to India, Pakistan, and western China, but was introduced here for use as a shade tree.

Chernobyl Anniversary

Apr 26, 2016

Thirty years ago today, reactor number four at Chernobyl melted down. Nature, ever resilient, adapted.

Termite Reproductives

Apr 25, 2016
Termite reproductives (alates) swarming during nuptial flight after rain
Ganesh Subramaniam (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons

A listener finds some insects that hatched in her flower pot. What are they? Well, they're not something you want near you house!

Happy Earth Day!

Apr 22, 2016
Rudy Mancke

  Take time to reflect on your place in the natural world.

A conical trashline orb weaver spider in its web.
Alex Wild, University of Texas at Austin's "Insects Unlocked," via Wikimedia Commons

   The conical trashline orb weaver is a spider that creates its own camouflage. 

Common Water Snakes

Apr 20, 2016

There are a number of water snakes that are common in South Carolina this time of year...


Rudy Mancke

A listener reports a strange looking creature--it looks like "a caterpillar with wings."


A summer tanager.
julian londono, Flickr

The summer tanager stays in South Carolina only for the spring and summer.

  The range of the rattlesnake is expanding into South Carolina.

Mining Bees

Apr 14, 2016
A mining bee's nest.
Sarah (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons

  Don't worry if you have tiny volcano-shaped bees nests in the lawn about now. Tawny Mining Bees nest individually and are harmless. They are useful spring pollinators of fruit trees and bushes.

Great Blue Herons

Apr 13, 2016
Great Blue Heron
Alan D. Wilson,, via Wikimedia Commons

  The great blue heron thrives in South Carolina.

This small snake, around 6 inches long, was feeling fierce nonetheless.
Benny Mazur, via Wikimedia Commons

The brown snake, or the Dekay snake, is common in backyards.

Mystery Skull

Apr 11, 2016
Rudy Mancke

A listener asks for Rudy's help in identifying an animal skull.


European honey bee
John Severns = Severnjc, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Isn’t nature wonderful? Most plants need insects for pollination, the movement of pollen from male to female flower parts.That same pollen that sometimes makes us sneeze, that is required for seeds to grow and fruits and vegetable to enlarge, also provides a valuable food for many animals. Adult Bees, both honeybees, and native bees and a few wasps, use pollen as a food for their young and sometimes for themselves.

Harbringers of Spring

Apr 8, 2016
The "tent" of the eastern tent caterpillar.
Esc861 (Own work). via Wikimedia Commons

In early spring in South Carolina the structures of tent caterpillars begin to appear.

Corn tassels.
Linnaea Mallette


How Pollen Works

Apr 7, 2016
Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflowe, morning glory, hollyhock, lily, primrose, and castor bean. The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long.
Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A grain of pollen, with its tough outer wall called the exine, travels by wind of by animals to a female flower structure. There is begins the process of fertilization. There are two nuclei in one pollen grain – the first one is the tube nucleus and grows an actual tube from the stigma – the sticky tip of the female flower structure where the pollen must land -- all the way down to the ovary where the eggs, or ovules, are found.

Eastern garter snake, Florida.
Glenn Bartolotti via Wikimedia Commons

The last species to hibernate in the fall and the first to awaken in the spring, the eastern garter snake is widespread.

A bee collecting pollen.
Jon Sullivan, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making it Grow. A grain of pollen is the male gamete for plants, analogous to sperm in mammals. The outer wall of a pollen organism is called the exine and is mostly made of a compound called sporopollenin. Sporopolleniin is one of the toughest materials nature has ever produced, resistant to acids and bases, and the reason that scientists find identifiable grains of pollen hundreds of millions of years old. Wind-disseminated pollen in particular may have a harsh journey and this outer coating helps it stay viable.

Black cormorants.
Manjithkaini, via Wikimedia Commons

You will likely see black cormorants standing in rivers waiting for schools of shad to migrate upstream.