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Identifying the leaves of trees native to northwest Iowa

October 18, 2017
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Photo of an american basswood leaf

Fall is the time of year to look at leaves. We pick them up and marvel at colors. We rake them up in the yard. We jump in the piles and toss them in the air. But what kind of leaf are you looking at? We have put together a list of ...

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What is the fuzzy stuff on my oak leaves?

October 10, 2017
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Photo of a woolly oak leaf gall

You picked up a brown bur oak leaf and get grossed out that it looks like it’s molding. But those fuzzy spots on the leaf aren’t mold; in fact, they’re galls. A gall is a growth on a plant that develops due to insects that majority of the time. A female gallmaker ...

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Osprey fly south in the winter to whereabouts unknown

October 3, 2017
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Photo of a female osprey with chicks

The Okoboji osprey pair and their three grown chicks are gone for the season, last spotted about the second week of September before heading south. But where exactly are they going? And why do they leave? Where are they going? We’re not exactly sure. Although the osprey male that has habited the Dickinson County ...

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Looks like a baby tomato, smells like a tomato, not a tomato

September 27, 2017
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Photo of a nightshade plant

We received a Facebook message the other day with a question about a plant with a tiny green berry that smelled like a tomato and looked like a tomato when it was cut open. But don’t eat it. It’s not a tomato. Black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum) is in the nightshade family, which ...

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How do monarch butterflies find their way south?

September 20, 2017
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Those wonderful orange-and-black butterflies that we love so much. They fly overhead this time of year, and we know they are headed to their overwintering sites outside of Mexico City. But how do they get there? Plenty of studies have been done throughout the years to try to figure out how a ...

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Serial winner Alex Miles take home top slot again

September 13, 2017
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Photo of the solar eclipse in the clouds

I made hashmarks for each photo — with photographers anonymous — that our staff voted for in the fall photography contest at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Five hashmarks for his or her No. 1 pick, four for the No. 2 pick, three for No. 3 and so on. When the votes ...

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Pollinator Paradise: Hello flooring!

September 6, 2017
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Photo of subfloor

This morning was filled with thank-you notes written to our dedicated volunteers as well as those who made recent donations to the Pollinator Paradise addition of the Dickinson County Nature Center. Honestly, I sat at my desk long enough, scribbling away, that I hadn’t really paid much attention to what else ...

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9 off-the-wall reasons to attend the Bee & Butterfly Festival

August 22, 2017
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Photo of woman holding an animal by the zoomobile

1. Buy butterfly milkweed. Dickinson County Nature Center staff have grown butterfly milkweed seedlings which will be for sale for $5 each during the Bee & Butterfly Festival 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1. You can buy one or 10 and start your own pollinator garden right in your own yard. 2. Get ...

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Rainy days call for indoor activities like the schoolhouse

August 16, 2017
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Photo of the interior of a country school

While I was taking a shift at the Westport Schoolhouse yesterday in Kenue Park, two families with young children came in. “OK, you be the teacher,” the kids said to their dad. “Good morning class,” the dad started. “Today is Tuesday, Aug. 15. We’re going to learn how many days each month ...

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#welovepollinators

August 9, 2017
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Photo of a chrysalis about to hatch

Gingerly. Gently. My face tightened up as I concentrated on being careful with the fragile chrysalis clinging to the toothpick in my hand. At Pollinator Paradise, we rear monarchs from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult. When they hatch, they are so tiny it’s almost impossible to see their vibrant black, ...

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