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Photo of boy coloring a bee

Bee pencil topper

September 9, 2019

All kids use pencils at school, but many times those pencils are plain yellow and don’t allow for much inspiration. We took pencils to the next level with our bee pencil toppers at the 2019 Bee & Butterfly Festival, and now you can make your own. Simply click here to…

Nature center now open Saturdays

September 5, 2019

The Dickinson County Nature Center is now open Saturdays, year-round. Instead of returning to its previous schedule of 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, Labor Day-Memorial Day, the Dickinson County Nature Center will now remain open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday year-round. “We have had requests from visitors to have…

Photo of monarch with crumpled wings

OE affects monarch butterflies

August 28, 2019

In the monarch enclosure and in the wild, we have come across monarch butterflies that hatch with crumpled wings. That is a sign that the butterfly is infected with ophyrocystis elektroscirrha, or OE. As if these butterflies didn’t have enough to deal with — like excessive pesticide use, their lack…

Photo of a painted lady

Five fun facts about painted lady butterflies

August 26, 2019

1. The painted lady isn’t picky. Unlike many butterflies that have certain host plants that they lay eggs on and that caterpillars eat — the monarch butterfly host plant is milkweed — the painted lady has been noted to have more than 100 host plants. Caterpillars will eat thistles, hollyhocks…

Photo of back of American toad

Tell apart Iowa toads

August 21, 2019

Al and Wally, named for conservationist Alfred Wallace, are two Great Plains toads (Anaxyrus cognatus) that live at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Four different toads live in Iowa — Great Plains toad, American toad, Fowler’s toad and Woodhouse’s toad — and they can be difficult to tell apart. Here…

Photo of a viceroy butterfly

Six facts about viceroy butterflies

August 19, 2019

You see a black-and-orange butterfly flitting around, but it looks too small to be a monarch butterfly. This butterfly has very similar markings, except for the black line across its hindwing. What could it be? It’s a viceroy! 1. Viceroys are mimics. Viceroy butterflies mimic monarch butterflies, and it was…

Worker bee jobs

August 14, 2019

“It looked like two bees were dead and other bees were picking them up and dragging them away. Do they do that?” When you watch a honeybee hive, you’ll see the honeybees doing what might seem like odd activities. I mean, why would they be dragging around a dead bee?…

10 pollinator crafts

August 13, 2019

Do you love pollinators as much as we do? Then try out some of our favorite pollinator-themed crafts!

Photo of red admiral butterfly

10 facts about red admiral butterflies

July 30, 2019

We’ve noticed a lot of red admirals lately. They might not be as big or as flashy as monarchs, but these little orangish-red and black butterflies are really neat. Here are 10 things that make red admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) unique: 1. They like stinging nettle. We’ve all reached down…

A butterfly’s bilateral symmetry

July 29, 2019

The line of symmetry is the imaginary line that divides something into two exactly equal and opposite parts. These two parts mirror each other; you can fold the figure in half and the two parts match exactly. Take a look at a monarch butterfly. Notice how the wings are identical…

Fall photography contest open for submissions

July 25, 2019

Summertime is always a beautiful time to take photos. Sunsets over the lake, birds flitting about, wildflowers blooming in bright colors — photography opportunities are endless. This season, the Dickinson County Nature Center is looking for more nature-related photos for its bi-annual photography contest, whether it be a picture of…

Photo of Westport Rural Schoolhouse sign

Westport Schoolhouse No. 5: A brief history

July 24, 2019

The first school in Dickinson County was an in-home private school that began around 1860, with a teacher employed to teach the children of Dr. J.S. Prescott and a few other local youth. The following years saw more private schools that soon expanded into small public education institutions throughout the…

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