At this stage of development, the seed is held tightly in place. In another week of two, the seed head will dry and the seed will be free to fall. Movement of the plant stalk by wind or animal will cause the seed to scatter over the surrounding area.
By removing the seed heads prior to seed dispersal, the species is denied future generations. The local population is reduced to scattered plants after just a few years of seed collection. It can still take several more years before viable seed left in the soil has all germinated. Missing a single year of seed collection could result in the release of fresh seed and a resurgence of Teasel in the field.
I drop the seed heads into a bucket as they are gathered and then empty the bucket into a feed sack such as that seen in the center of the photo. I also use the feed sack as a reference point that allows me to coordinate my search so no part of the field is missed. When doing work like this it is important to stay oriented so you can conduct a thorough search. Just wandering around will result in missed plants and unsatisfactory results.
This usually means that there was some type of ground disturbance that allowed multiple seedlings to prosper.
The loose bare soil was perfect for invasive plants.
Those rosettes will be flowering plants next year. The rosettes can be easily killed by spraying a little bit of glyphosate on the growing point in the center of the plant, but I won’t use that treatment here. There’s no way I can locate all of those rosettes hidden in the surrounding vegetation, so it’s more effective for me to just wait until next year and rob these plants of their seed.
On a few plants, the flower is in bloom or even just beginning to bud. I pick anything that could possibly produce seed. Any actively growing plants are not likely to be successful in producing new blooms and developing seeds before being stopped by frost or freeze.
I found this pink looper caterpillar munching on the Teasel seed capsules. I only found a single caterpillar, so I don’t think this is a threat to the species.
I found several new Spider Milkweeds, Asclepias viridis, that had migrated into the field. This is a plant that I have noticed being used as an early season host by caterpillars of the State Endangered Unexpected Tiger Moth, Cycnia inopinatus.
Butterfly Weed is common in this field and I saw several of the bright orange caterpillars. I only stopped for a few pictures, because I kept telling myself to get back to work.