On February 7th, 2016 a few friends and I stayed the night at the Upper Oso campground after bouldering near Lizard’s Mouth Rock. I had suggested we stay there so I could check up on the A. californica plants right next to the campground. Some of the plants were visible but very small, all under 3cm in hight and there was no sign of monarchs on the plants yet.
Second (attempted) Visit
On March 17th, 2016 I drove out to the Upper Oso site. However, the gate at one of the river crossings near the ranger station was closed. I drove back to the Paradise Store to get cell service and called Dr. Villablanca. He told me to go to the ranger station and ask them for information about the road closure and suggested hiking the rest of the way to the site. I went to the ranger station, but no one was there and the station was closed (I’m assuming because it was St. Patrick’s Day?). Although, I did happen to run into a Forest Service employee named Patrick (interesting coincidence, considering the day) who didn’t know anything about the road closure but suggested I contact the biologist in Goleta for access to the road.
Having not known I would be hiking 3 miles to the campsite, I had not given myself enough time to do the hike there and back as well as collect data before sunset. I was also moving a car-load of stuff to Palmdale, so, I made the decision to wait until we could figure out the road closure situation before trekking out to the site alone.
One April 3rd, 2016 Ashley and I met at Upper Oso campground and found out the A. californica were in full swing! They were all a pretty good size with some already starting to lose their flowers and beginning to develop their pods. Most of them had at least one caterpillar, if not, five or six.
We went over the protocol, the data sheets, basic plant-part terms, instar characteristics, and the process of measuring the plants and caterpillars. We were at this site for about three hours due to this and a mixture of other things. When we first arrived, we realized our calipers were not functioning correctly, so we spent quite a bit of time trying to fix them. Eventually, we decided to use the tape measure, which slowed us down a little but seemed to work out. It was also my first time at the site since all the plants had come up this season, so we spent a good amount of time searching for plants too. While collecting data we found this green caterpillar cruising across one of the milkweed plants.
Check out the view from the site! Also, the wildflowers in the Santa Ynez mountains are looking pretty great right now!
Next, we went to the Lower Red Rock site and found a little over thirty A. eriocarpa plants that were relatively small. I think we caught them in time to get a nice data set this season. This site also had close-to no leaf damage and the only caterpillars we found were very small, all 1st instars. I forgot to take pictures of the plants, but I have a photo of Ashley measuring one of the plants and a photo of a beautiful chrysalis we found at the site.