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Nuisance Wildlife: the Nine-Banded Armadillo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I thought we’d start to “new semester” by talking about some nuisance wildlife animals for gardeners. The newest is the nine-banded armadillo which originally crossed the Rio Grande in to Texas and has now crossed the Mississippi and every other river that stood between it and South Carolina. At first, biologists believed its range would be severely limited by cold temperatures, but these these mammals are first class diggers and burrow deeply into the soil when temperatures are extreme. Most of an armadillo’s diet comes from insects, especially earthworms and grubs. They happily consume fire ants. Occasionally they eat small reptiles and amphibians. Their most dangerous predators is the automobile and most of us have only seen them dead on the highway -- partially because they leap three feet in the air when air whooshes over them or they’re startled.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.