Blog

Five answers to questions about wood ticks

Photo of a wood tick

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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5 fun moth facts

Photo of a hummingbird moth

Butterflies definitely seem to be more popular than moths, but moths are actually more populous than butterflies. In the United States, there are about 750 species of butterflies and 11,000 species of moths. (Can you tell the difference between butterflies and moths?) Many people don’t know much about moths, other than they are nocturnal and…

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10 surprisingly not-so-good plants for your garden

Photo of a chrysanthemum

Often, we think if a plant is pretty, has flowers and is colorful, it’s great for the garden. We often assume it’s also great for pollinators. Flowers have pollen and nectar, right? So it must be good for pollinators. However, there are some plants that are surprisingly not-so-good for pollinators. It could simply have nothing…

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Your mosquito questions answered

Photo of a tiger mosquito

The bane of summer — the mosquito. We all love nice weather, but no one loves this little annoyances that seem to love the heat as well. You probably have plenty of questions, so we’re here to answer just a few. Why do mosquitoes bite? Female mosquitoes bite and take blood, whereas males survive on…

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Quick guide to finding a baby animal: Part II

Photo of ducklings in the grass

People are generally so kind-hearted when it comes to baby animals. You might see a group of ducklings walking around without an adult and just want to help them, out of the goodness of your heart. We love that people want to help animals, but often the best thing to do is leave wildlife alone.…

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Prairie plant roots help water quality

Photo of butterfly milkweed root drawing

Native prairie plants make wonderful habitat for wildlife like voles, turkeys, rabbits, ground squirrels, hawks and foxes. They provide both habitat and food sources for tiny creatures such as monarch butterflies, bumblebees and milkweed beetles. They are beautiful to look at. However, they are also important in a way that we can’t see. Deep down…

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It’s warbler season: Tips to finding and identifying warblers

Photo of a Wilson's warbler

You’ve probably heard of warblers, but many people don’t have the opportunity to see one or don’t know if they do. These birds only come through northwest Iowa twice a year, for a couple of weeks at a time as they migrate to their northern breeding grounds. Since they are insect-eaters, warblers migrate south in…

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Four Iowa swallows

Photo of a tree swallow sitting on a post

Bright birds with forked tails that swoop and dive around you — we see a lot of these in Kenue Park. They’re definitely swallows, but can you tell which kind? In Iowa, you’re likely to see four different kinds of swallows: Barn swallows, tree swallows, cliff swallows and purple martins. They’re quite similar, but relatively…

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Purple martins are the largest swallow in the U.S.

Photo of a male and female purple martin

A colony of white, gourd-like houses hang on a large pole outside of the Dickinson County Nature Center. Around them flies dozens of gliding, floating, flitting dark birds — purple martins. Local birder and owner of Bird Haven in Spirit Lake Wendell Hansen has cared for the purple martins for many years, and last June…

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Egret, crane or heron? How to tell which bird you have seen

Photo of a great egret

Two big white birds — rehabilitated trumpeter swans — live on the Kenue Park wetland, but last week we also spotted three more white birds. Egrets? Cranes? Herons? We were trying to figure out what they were but we couldn’t see their necks, because it was breezy and they had their heads hunkered down. However,…

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