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Crotalarias and moths

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Writing radio is fascinating as I learn all sorts of cool stuff –there are native Crotalarias that are the original larval food source for the ornate bella moth—their front wings have rows of black spots and back wings are pink. Native species of Crotalaria are having a hard time with habitat loss and this moth sometimes goes to prolific invasive Crotalaria for to deposit their eggs. Female moths of this species mate with lots of males – whose sperm comes in a package containing the poisonous compound that protects the larva – females can select from over a dozen discrete spermatophores to choose the ones with the highest levels of the toxins. The distinctly colored larva and adults are recognized by predators as toxic– the same way the monarchs signal to predators not to feed on them.

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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.