Up-and-coming invasive species

Environmentalists have been watching and waiting as new invasive species begin to take hold and move across the country and across Iowa. Jumping worms, the brown marmorated stink bug, the gypsy moth and the spotted lanternfly. Let’s take a look at a few of these up-and-coming invasives. Jumping worms Most earthworms are not actually native…

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Reasons why insects are beneficial

Insects are beneficial. For some reason, most people grow up thinking “Ew” whenever they think “Insect.” However, the vast majority of insects are actually beneficial to humans and the environment. Even those that we think of as annoying, such as mosquitoes, can actually be beneficial in some way. Mosquitoes are actually pollinators. A type of…

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The amazing blue orchard mason bee

Do you love fruit? Then you love the blue orchard mason bee. Blue orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are part of a family of bees that are solitary — meaning they live and breed individually instead of socially in a hive, like honeybees — and use clay to make partitions to their nests and to…

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Some insects use a proboscis to drink

In the Build a Pollinator exhibit inside Pollinator Paradise at the Dickinson County Nature Center, one item that you get to put on your pollinator is a proboscis. Many insects have a proboscis, which is a type of mouthpart that is basically a tube to help the insect suck up nectar. You might have seen…

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Five answers to questions about wood ticks

A hard shell, long legs, a bad reputation. Know what I’m talking about? It’s the wood tick (Dermacentor variabilis), or American dog tick! More than a dozen tick species can be found throughout Iowa, but the most common is the wood tick. Iowa State University Extension & Outreach has a great publication on wood ticks,…

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10 children’s books all about nature

A great way to get kids interested in nature is to read books that have inspiring characters and animals that also love the outdoors. Lessons about bees and their pollination skills, the importance of rattlesnakes to the environment, why we should take care of trees and what is neat about bats can all be learned…

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Turn yourself into a lady bug: Personalized rock craft

Have you ever wanted to experience the world through the eyes of an insect? Imagine the viewpoint looking up through the grass, seeing the expansive world that exists right on the surface of the earth. Well, I can’t offer you that view, but I can help you turn yourself into a bug — at least…

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The majestic monarch’s magnificent life cycle

A few more weeks and the monarch butterflies that are overwintering in Mexico will start making their way north. Once coming out of hibernation, a female monarch will find a male with which to reproduce. Around the Texas/Mexico border, the female monarch will find milkweed plants on which to lay her eggs. She can lay…

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