Blog

Tell apart Iowa toads

Photo of back of American toad

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 are a few key ways…

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Worker bee jobs

“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? There’s a perfectly rational explanation…

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10 pollinator crafts

Do you love pollinators as much as we do? Then try out some of our favorite pollinator-themed crafts! Egg carton butterfly I saw a funny meme about looking for recipes online and having to click on a post that instead of giving you the list of ingredients instead goes through “When I was senior in…

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10 facts about red admiral butterflies

Photo of red admiral butterfly

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 to pull a weed and…

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10 monarch butterfly questions answered

Photo of a female monarch butterfly

We get a lot of questions at the Dickinson County Nature Center, and a lot of them have to do with butterflies and bees. Let’s take a look at some of our most commonly asked questions about monarch butterflies. How long do monarch butterflies live? A monarch is in the egg stage for three-five days,…

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House sparrows and how to deal with them

Photo of a house sparrow

House sparrows are jerks. There, I said it. These pesky birds were introduced to the U.S. in 1851 and spread rapidly throughout the country. They are now common across all of North America, except Alaska. House sparrows nest in natural and artificial cavities, and they will also compete for nesting boxes. The issues come when…

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Red, white and blue flowers

Photo of royal catchfly

Adding flags is not the only way to make your garden patriotic. Red, white and blue — plenty of native, pollinator-friendly options exist to add some Americana to your landscape. Royal catchfly (Silene regia) The avian courtyard at the Dickinson County Nature Center features royal catchfly, and its tiny, red blooms draw in many flitting,…

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Pollinator myths and misconceptions

Pollinators are a huge topic of conversation in conservation today, and that’s why we have added the Pollinator Paradise addition to the Dickinson County Nature Center. As we enter into discussions about pollinators, we hear a lot of myths and misconceptions. Let’s take a look at a few. 1. I don’t want bees in the…

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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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