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.

Contact Rudy Mancke

Ways to Connect

Immature White Ibis

Aug 25, 2017
At sunrise, an adult white ibis teaches her child the fine art of synchronized foraging along a mud flat. These two were part of large flock that spent the night on Munyon Island at John D MacArthur Beach State Park in Florida.
Bob Peterson [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

The immature White Ibis will eventually molt into white plummage.

A juvenile Southern Black Racer.
Kevin Enge/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The adult Striped Racers are black. Juveniles have a blotch pattern.

Brown Widow Spiders?

Aug 23, 2017
A Brown Widow spider.
Roy Niswanger/Flickr

Yes, there are Brown Widow spiders, as well as Black Widows, living in South Carolina. Both are harmful to humans.

Century Plants

Aug 22, 2017
Agave americana in bloom.
Alvesgaspar [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Not all of the plants we call Century plants live for 100 years. However, they are long-lived. 


Aug 21, 2017
The path of the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse.

A total solar eclipse, visible in South Carolina, is an opportunity to study the sun.

Spiny Backed Orb Weaver
Markrosenrosen/Wikimedia Commons

This remarkable spider is native to South Carolina.

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

These solitary wasps rarely sting a human being.

The Snake and the Frog

Aug 16, 2017
Eastern Garter snake, Florida.
Glenn Bartolotti via Wikimedia Commons

This common snake was found in a pool near Columbia, along with  a bullfrog.

A Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell turtle.
James Harding/

The Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell turtle is more common that the other Softshell found in South Carolina, the Florida Softshell turtle.

The Devil's Walking Stick in flower.
James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society,

This plant is common on the fringe of woodlands, often on roadsides.

A Giant Leopard moth, Hypercompe scribonia, 1.25 inches long, in Austin, Texas.
Ronnie Pitman [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr

Listeners report sightings of several of the distinctive moths living in South Carolina.

A Land Planarian.
Martin LaBar [CC BY-NC 2.0], via Flickr

Several listeners have reported sightings of these odd looking creatures. The Land Planarian is a non-native species.

Neoclytus acuminatus - Red-headed Ash Borer, one of the many beautiful wood boring beetles in the Cerambycid group. Collected in Prince George's County, Maryland.
USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

The Ash Borer beetle lays its eggs in dead, dying, or freshly cut trees.

Trapdoor Spider Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA.
Patrick Randall [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

These dark-colored spiders, common in South Carolina, have a singular look.

A Writing Spider with its egg sac.
Joyous! [CC BY-NC 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Having matured through the summer, many spiders in South Carolina are ready to mate.

The trunk of a Hercules Club tree, in Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Chesapeake Bay Program [CC BY-NC 2.0], via Flickr

Hercules Club tree, also known as a devil's walking stick or prickly ash, at Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Lizard Sightings

Aug 2, 2017
Six Lined Racerunner.
Tom Gill [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

The Eastern Fence Lizard eats insects and spiders

, as does the Six-Lined Race Runner.

A Killdeer Takes a Dip

Aug 1, 2017
A Killdeer with its nest and eggs.
Mykola Swarnyk, via Wikimedia Commons

Report of a bird behaving...strangely.

Rat-Tailed Maggot

Jul 31, 2017
A Rat-Tailed maggot.
Nathan Reading [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

The Rat-Tailed maggot - Eristalis tenax - is the larvae of the Drone Fly, or Hover Fly. It lives in standing water.

A Big, Beautiful Insect

Jul 28, 2017
A Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) in Durham, North Carolina, July 2014.
Rhododendrites (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Common in the Carolinas, the Great Blue Skimmer is one of the largest of the dragonflies in the Southeast.


Jul 27, 2017
James Emery

Webworms are a larvae for moths.

Eastern carpenter bee (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

The Carpenter bee leaves sawdust behind as it digs its hole into wood. Woodpeckers often pick their way into these holes looking for the bees.

Greater Shearwaters

Jul 25, 2017
Greater Shearwater, or Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis)
Artie Kopelman via Flickr

Rudy spots a bird that isn't usually seen along the South Carolina coast.

Painted Buckeyes

Jul 24, 2017
Painted buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica), flowers and leaves. Buckeye is especially evident in early spring because its leaves are among the earliest to develop fully. Duke Forest Korstian Division, Durham, North Carolina USA.
Jane Shelby Richardson, Duke University [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Painted buckeyes are wide spread in the mountains and Piedmont of South Carolina. The can sometimes be found on the coastal plain.

Ant lion larva (Myrmeleontidae).
NPS/Robb Hannawacker

The antlions, or ant-lions, are a group of about 2,000 species of insect in the family Myrmeleontidae, found in most warm climates around the world. The larvae, sometimes called "doodlebugs" in the south, leap from their pits to capture their prey.

Cicada Killer Wasp

Jul 20, 2017
A Cicada Killer Wasp with a Cicada.
Bill Buchanan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A listener finds a wasp in the process of preying on a cicada.

An American Oystercatcher.
The Lilac Breasted Roller [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The pliable beak of the Oystercatcher is a good tool for reaching into bivalves.

In South Carolina you will find both the Southern and the Northern Ring-Necked Snakes.

Remembering Thoreau

Jul 17, 2017

July 12 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau.

Amazing Transformation

Jul 14, 2017
This Cicada is in the last stages of molting.
Jodelet / Lépinay [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The last stage of development for a Cicada is from nymph to adult, when it sheds its shell.