Photo of first instar monarch caterpillar

After hatching from an egg, monarch caterpillars live about 10-14 days. (Read about the monarch butterfly life cycle here) However, a lot happens in that time. The larval stage of a monarch is called a caterpillar. When the caterpillar first hatches, it is 2-6 mm long. As it grows, it molts — sheds its skin…

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Photo of a clouded sulphur butterfly

A pretty yellow butterfly that flits around from flower to flower. It’s so delicate that it barely seems like it’s real. However, the clouded sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice) is one of the most common butterflies in the state of Iowa. Let’s take a look at some of the neat facts about it: Clouded sulphurs get…

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Photo of handprint butterfly

Butterflies flitting to and fro — it’s the epitomy of spring and summer. Their colors are bright — yellow, orange, red. They land on bright flowers and create a perfect vision. You’ve seen butterfly craft after butterfly craft, but we want to offer yet another. All this one takes is crayons and a piece of…

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Photo of black walnut tree

Black walnut trees (Juglans nigra) are probably best known for two things — their seed and their wood. Although not as commonly eaten as an English walnut, what you would find in a grocery store, black walnuts can also be eaten if harvested, processed and stored correctly. They have an especially strong nut flavor that…

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Photo of young Bindi Irwin

Bindi, the nature center’s mini rex rabbit animal ambassador, is named after Bindi Irwin, daughter of Steve Irwin. Steve Irwin grew up loving animals in his home of Australia, and his family ran the Beerwah Reptile Park — later called the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park — in Beerwah, Queensland. As an adult, he began…

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Photo of bobblehead bunny

Bindi the bunny hardly ever sits still. The Dickinson County Nature Center animal ambassador likes to chew and play, and if you do catch her lying down she will immediately get up and bound around her enclosure. So it seemed appropriate to have a craft that also doesn’t sit still — a bobblehead bunny. To…

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Photo of maple seeds

In the east half of the state, sugar maples reign supreme. Who doesn’t like maple syrup? However, the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is still a wonderful tree found in Dickinson County. They have actually been hybridized with red maples for a pretty, fast-growing tree (Acer freemanii). Size Silver maples grow 75-100 feet tall. It is…

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We could have made a red-eared slider turtle coloring page, but why not make it a little more interesting and add a connect-the-dot activity too? Click here for your free printable connect-the-dot sheet. Turtle finger puppet template Turtle or tortoise — they’re different creatures, but you can make this fun finger puppet into whichever you…

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Photo of Ding Darling

One of the Dickinson County Nature Center’s red-eared slider turtles is named Darling. Not because it’s a darling name — although it is — but because he is named after Iowa conservationist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling. Jay Norwood Darling was born in 1876 in Norwood, MI, but he moved with his family to Sioux City…

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Photo of American elm

Two kinds of elms can be found statewide in Iowa, the American Elm (Ulmus americana) and the red elm (Ulmus rubra) or the slippery elm. American elm American elms have battled disease, like many types of trees native to Iowa. Dutch elm disease was introduced from Europe in the 1930s and affects young American elms…

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