Our Wild Texas – June 2023

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Alligators – More Than Just a Pretty Smile

Alligator with toothy grin, video link

Alligators look primal because they are – they've been in this area for 65 million years. They look fierce, but no one is known to have been killed by an alligator in Texas. They may not look important, but alligators are essential to wetland ecosystems and are a success story of the endangered species program. 

You'll see gators in some state parks, including Brazos Bend, where they created the video Alligator Etiquette about how to share space with gators. When you see an alligator, stay at least 20 feet away and don't harass or feed them – it's illegal.

They're reptiles, so the best time to see alligators is when it's warm. Temperature also affects the eggs – a nest temperature above 89° will produce all males! See how eggs are collected in the video Gator Guardians. And if you don't think they're cute, check out this video of baby alligators hatching.

A Sampling of Summer Wildflowers

Yellow wildflowers, video link

Spring isn't the only time to see wildflowers in Texas, many wait for it to heat up in late May and June before they bloom, like horsemint. Relax with our video of warm-weather natives, Roadside Wildflowers. It's been a banner year for wildflowers in some parts of the state, including at Inks Lake State Park – check out the video of the wildflower superbloom there.

Tips to Find Pollinator Plants for Your Area

Small green carpenter bee on morning glory, video link

Small carpenter bee on morning glory

Now that summer's turned the heat up to scorching, it's a good time to sit indoors and plan a pollinator garden or wildscape for fall planting.

Not all plants can take extreme heat. One way to find the summer survivors in your area is by looking at your neighbors' gardens during walks. Keep tabs on which flowering plants thrive, which survive and which ones don't make it. 

Sphinx moth on penta flower

Snowberry clearwing moth on violet penta

Also watch for plants that attract the most pollinators – butterflies are active in summer. Take photos of plants that interest you to a local nursery for more information.

Plants we know to be good attractors, like lantana, may not be if they're a hybrid – like the solid yellow lantana. For more tips on what to avoid, see our list in Plant This, Not That.


Discover Wildlife Fossils in Texas

Dinosaur statues at Dinosaur Valley SP, video link

Dinosaur Valley State Park

This is the 100-year anniversary of Texas State Parks, which provide a safe space for our native wildlife. The fossils we've discovered in parks tell us the land we know as Texas has supported wildlife for millions of years.

Some parks, like Lake Whitney, have a variety of fossils, and fossilized dinosaur tracks have been found in Dinosaur Valley and Government Canyon – check out the video, Dinosaur Valley Tracks: 112 Million Years in the Making. It's tempting, but never take fossils from a state park – what's there belongs to us all. 

For a deeper dive into our prehistoric wildlife, watch our video The Fascinating World of Fossils in Texas State Parks. Find more fossil sites, including where you can take home what you find, in the Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine story Prehistoric Texas.

Toyota Tundra ad with link

Provide Water for Wildlife This Summer

Screech owl sitting in water

Eastern screech owl

Access to water can mean life or death for wildlife, especially during the hot Texas summer. Providing animals a plant saucer or other shallow container with an inch or two of clean water allows them to drink or just cool off. Tips: Elevating the container on an overturned pot or chair helps keep birds safe, while opossums, lizards and other wildlife prefer ground-level water. Provide small and large saucers if possible, refill daily, clean weekly, and refill just before dark for nightlife. 

A message from our non-profit partner Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation:

Get Away with a Toyota Giveaway

Toyota truck giveaway, with link

To celebrate 100 years of Texas State Parks, Toyota and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation have teamed up to offer a giveaway to help you get away! One lucky sweepstakes winner will take home a Toyota Tundra prize package that includes everything you need for a Texas outdoor adventure, including a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, plus extras from YETI, Solo Stove, PAKMULE, Tecovas, SWAROVSKI OPTIK, Turtlebox, PECOS Outdoor and more.

Make a $25 donation here to support 100 years of Texas State Parks between May 1 and October 22, 2023, and you will be automatically entered. Visit LetsGo100.org for complete details and sweepstakes rules.

Messages from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine advertisers:

Visit Beaumont - all the birds will be there, with link

Visit Baytown for Birding, with link

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