Content about nature

  The hike we took in Olympic National Park was heavily forested but the boardwalk we walked on created a micro-climate where small flowering plants took advantage of the sunlight. One very noticeable plant was Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis. This six-inch high plant makes carpets of white flowers, actually bracts, just like our flowering dogwood, and it is native to the upper Northern US, parts of Canada, Greenland and into Northeast Euasia.

Giant Orb Weaver

Aug 20, 2015

The spectacular spider found by a listener on Johns Island  is a Giant Orb Weaver.

  With new passports in hand, husband Edward and I crossed into Canada to visit Butchart Gardens – it was actually worth going through customs. My favorite thing (other than the Japanese garden) was meeting big leaf maples – Acer macrophyllum. This tree is native from dry southern California to the temperature moisture-laden Victoria Island, home of Butchart Gardens. The leaves were huge --- some a foot across – and - deeply lobed and there were large clusters of asaryas – those two-winged seed capsules. These trees also serve as a substrate for other plant growth -- In the moisture rich atmosphere of Victoria Island, some big leaf maples support epiphytes and lichens that can weigh four times more than the total mass of leaves – quite a load to carry, and can cause limbs to break off in rainy, windy storms.

Hurricane Ridge

Aug 19, 2015

  On our west coast vacation, we visited Hurricane Ridge at the Olympic National Park. With almost a million acres, the animals there do not fear humans and as we walked to a look out point, a fat fuzzy fellow snuffled along the path undisturbed by our presence. It was a marmot which is the out west name for woodchucks. A few minutes later, three black tailed female deer continued to graze as we passed by them, and a moment later we saw a male with antlers still in velvet. This magnificent land area has been designated a world heritage center due to the diversity of animals and plants – partially due to the temperate rainfall portion which normally receives over 180 inches of precipitation annually. I was especially fascinated by the incredible diversity of lichens this moist, pristine eco-system supports.

  On a recent trip to the west coast, we visited Olympic National Park, over a million acres. The douglas fir and western red cedar dominated the five hour walk we took to a rocky beach. The woods were amazingly clear; there were no vines and even if we hadn’t been on a walkway, I felt we could have made our way with relative ease. Everything that was vaguely horizontal was covered in moss or lichens, some tree stumps had moss thicker than my finger could measure. The most noticeable shrub was salal which was covered with fruits (I found out later they were edible), a native plant that is collected for the florist industry because of its glossy, thick leaves. A special treat was seeing bunchberry, Cornus Canadensis, a ground cover dogwood species.

Royal Walnut Moth

Aug 19, 2015
A Regal Moth, a.k.a. Royal Walnut Moth.
Kadoka1 via Wikimedia Commons

  An listener finds an uncommon moth found in Greenville, sometimes called a Regal Moth.

Eastern Worm Snake
Greg Schechter

  The elongated eggs this listener found belong to the Eastern Worm Snake.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Aug 17, 2015
Eastern Lubber Grasshopper
Thomas Good [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

  A listener from St. George says there are some grasshoppers in his town that he doesn't see elsewhere.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Peter Wallack

  A listener asks Rudy to identify the bird nesting over his driveway. It turns out to be one of the two types of night heron that are common in South Carolina.

Eastern Hercules Beetle

Aug 13, 2015
Eastern Hercules Beetle
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

  A listener rescues a Hercules beetle.

A listener sees a snake eating what looks like a "giant slug."   

A listener finds a tube on the beach that appears to be made of shells and other debris. What kind of creature makes such a thing?


  A listener finds two insects caught in a spider web. What are they?

Eastern Whippoorwill
Dominic Sherony

  A listener reports a sighting of an Eastern Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus).

Young Box Elder Bugs

Aug 6, 2015
Box Elder Bug Nymphs

A listener spotted these insects in Clemmons, NC.

The underside of an Ilia Under-wing Moth caterpillar (catocala ilia)

From the top, it's gray and black and blends in with the bark of many trees. From underneath, it looks altogether different.

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

  You may spot the Devil's Walking Stick in flower this time of year as you drive just about anywhere in the state.

James Emery

  We used to call them Fall Web Worms, because that's when we saw them. However, they are now being spottted around the state, in the middle of the summer!

A listener sees a Brown Water Snake feasting on a Catfish in the Edisto River.

A Southern Flying Squirrel  is found in a listener's yard.

On the Saluda River, a listener watches a Bard Owl steal a fish from the end of his hook!

Immature Red-tailed Hawks were spotted in a listener's neighborhood.

Black Gum Tree

Jul 27, 2015

The Black Gum tree is a type of Tupelo, and sometimes have galls on them.  

The snake this listener found near his pond is dangerous: the Cotton Mouth.

A listener spots an adult Bald Eagle on his neighbor's dock near Folly Beach--what a sight!

Snake on the Patio

Jul 21, 2015

A listener finds a rat snake with odd markings.


Cannonball Jelly Fish

Jul 20, 2015

  A listener finds a piece of what looks like cartilage on the beach at Amelia Island, and thinks it comes from a jellyfish.

Live Oak Root Borer

Jul 10, 2015

  The Live Oak Root Borer beetle isn't all that common in South Carolina. Once you see one, you aren't likely to forget it, though. They are really big.

A Swallow Tailed Kite
Joe Nicholson,

A listener shares his first-ever sighting of the magnificent Swallow-tailed Kite.

American Goldfinches, male (left) and female
Ken Thomas [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  It's unusual, but, American Goldfinches are increasingly staying to nest in South Carolina in the summer.