Wrapping up Texas and Heading to Oklahoma

Chelsea Plimpton, Jansy Alvarado, and Brittany Hutchinson at Fort Cavazos

Lawton, OK – Fort Sill

I was fortunate enough to spend time at Fort Cavazos working alongside Brittany Hutchinson and Chelsea Plimpton, the Pollinator Biologist, who is part of the Adaptive & Integrative Management (AIM) and works for The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During my time at Fort Cavazos, I was able to see some monarchs and some monarch larvae. When conducting surveys on base, there were always surprises waiting around the corner, from seeing cows grazing, soldiers training, or flipping over a milkweed leaves and seeing a monarch larva. Although my time at Fort Cavazos was split going to different bases, I was able to learn so much about the amazing work that Chelsea has done for so many years. Overall it has been amazing seeing all the wildflowers in bloom, the blue bonnets, the Indian blankets, Texas Yellowstars, and the Texas paintbrushes seem to stretch on forever. 

During my time in Texas, I was also able to spend some time at Camp Bullis in San Antonio, Texas. Although my trip here was short, we met amazing people on base such as Jim Peterson, Natural Resource Manager and Shannon Carrasco, Natural Resources Specialist. Both of them joined us to see how the surveys are conducted and they also shared their experiences with wildlife management. It has been exciting to meet so many people that want to get involved with this project and help create and protect monarch butterflies and other pollinator habitat. I really enjoyed seeing the pollinator garden Jim had started to put together. He actually was able to save a couple milkweed plants and managed to relocate them to the pollinator garden before they got mowed over. We found 2 instars on these milkweed plants, one 4th and one 5th instar. Another highlight from this project was spotting another milkweed species, Green Comet Milkweed (A.viridiflora). Although a lot of the milkweed plants we were finding were either Antelope Horn (A. asperula) or Green Antelope horn (A.viridis) it was always thrilling to see. After my time in Texas I was set to head to Oklahoma, again. 

Back to where I started my journey, in Lawton, Oklahoma. I had the pleasure of coming back to survey at Fort Sill for the rest of May. The first time I came to Oklahoma, it looked very different. The sky was gloomy and very little to no flowers were seen. This time around, the grass is green, more wildflowers are out and it feels familiar but different. It is interesting to think what a difference just a few months can make. There were so many wildflowers in bloom, although there were very few monarch butterflies and larvae sightings, I am hopeful because Fort Sill has great habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. Another highpoint was spotting another milkweed species at Ft. Sill, Engelman’s milkweed (A.engelmanniana), I almost missed it because the leaves are so thin and not very noticeable, but once I saw the flowers blooming I knew it was a milkweed. Overall, I am grateful for the help and knowledge that Russell Martin and Vici White, Natural Resource Managers, shared with me during my time at Fort Sill.

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