The March of the yellow alligator 

Published 6:11 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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It’s on the land! It’s in the water! It’s in the air like a miasma! The big yellow monster is upon us. It is pollen season…hide! Nothing is exempt from being coated. I know there are lots of positive benefits of pollen, but enough is enough.  Ma Nature is working overtime with her fairy dust, and as spring gets warmer and warmer, we’re getting more of it.  

We just returned from South Carolina where we visited our eight-year-old twin grandchildren. We were there just in time for the end of their pollen season only to return home a week later to the height of the pollen storm in Suffolk. 

We were greeted by our grandchildren with squeals of excitement about their eye witness account of … the yellow alligator. Now, we’ve been following accounts of the invasive spotted lantern fly, and recently an infestation of jumping worms, but a yellow alligator? Must be March Madness or maybe an early April Fool Day’s joke. 

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We were assured by the resident adults in the household that this was a verifiable account, that there was in fact a yellow alligator lying on the bank of the pond in their backyard, and that more had been seen around other ponds in the neighborhood. As the story unfolded, we realized that the pollen was so bad there that it had formed a thick scum on the water, much like what you may have noticed in Suffolk’s ponds and lakes recently.  

The alligator had come through the yellow scum to sun himself on the bank and lay there long enough to be dusted by the massive amounts of pollen in the air until he was totally coated in yellow from snarly snout to scaly tail. Not being a fan of alligators, especially the ones hanging out in our grandchildren’s yard, it was nice to know that at least they were easier to spot.  

On our return trip home, we started talking about the yellow alligator and alligators in general. Alligators are native as far north as North Carolina. The Alligator River is not too far across the border into North Carolina from Virginia. There is a resident population as far north as Merchant’s Mill Pond State Park in North Carolina; it’s a beautiful place to visit.  

Alligators are not native to Virginia, not even in the Great Dismal Swamp. We think we’ll ride down to North Carolina just to check and see if they have any yellow ones. Looks like conditions are just about right.


Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at