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Posts by kiley

Why do monarchs overwinter in Mexico?

Photo of roosting monarch butterflies

Most people familiar with monarch butterflies know that they migrate to central Mexico to overwinter. You can read in-depth how monarchs find their way here, but in general, they use their circadian rhythm to orient themselves with the direction of the sun and also use the earth’s magnetic field to fly toward the equator. However,…

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Owls of Iowa: Great horned owl

Photo of a great-horned owl

There are nine species of owls in Iowa, and the great-horned owl (Bubo virgianus) may be the most well-known species. Great-horned owls have the quintessential owl call. When you think owl, you think “Whoooo. Whoooo.” That is actually not the call of every owl but the call of the great-horned owl. You can’t see their…

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Simple origami bee

Photo of completed origami bee

We’re bzzzzy bees at the Dickinson County Nature Center, and we’re continuously celebrating bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds and all of our pollinators at Pollinator Paradise. Once you see the live bees in the indoor beehive, crawl through the human-sized honeycomb, pollinate life-size apple trees and see all the delicious foods that pollinators help us with…

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Eight snow facts you probably didn’t know

Photo of people walking on a snowy trail

1. All snowflakes are unique, sort of. The short answer is, yes, because each ice crystal has a unique path to the ground. They will float through different clouds of different temperatures and different levels of moisture, which means the ice crystal will grow in a unique way. Temperature and humidity — moisture in the…

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Muskrats remain active during the winter

Photo of a muskrat in water

It may look like a whole colony of muskrats has overtaken a wetland in the winter. Mounds of plants are pushed up all around, but most likely it’s not as many muskrats as it appears. Muskrats do not hibernate during winter, and they also don’t store food in their lodges like beavers do. That means…

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Reasons why insects are beneficial

Photo of a mosquito on a flower

Insects are beneficial. For some reason, most people grow up thinking “Ew” whenever they think “Insect.” However, the vast majority of insects are actually beneficial to humans and the environment. Even those that we think of as annoying, such as mosquitoes, can actually be beneficial in some way. Mosquitoes are actually pollinators. A type of…

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Painted and snapping turtles survive winter underwater

We see many types of turtles roaming around northwest Iowa in the summertime, especially painted turtles and snapping turtles. But we don’t see any in the winter. Where do they all go? Painted turtles and snapping turtles spend their winters in lakes or ponds, living beneath the ice the forms. They survive because of a…

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Animals that don’t have a pattern are cathemeral

Learning about nature and animals is so interesting, because humans seem to have a desire to divide things into categories, and for those categories to be neat and clear. When learning about butterflies and moths, we want to know how to tell the difference. There are general differences, but there seems to be an exception…

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Winter weather predictions for northwest Iowa

We all want to know what’s going to happen each winter, and it’s always a topic of conversation as fall crawls toward its colder companion season. So what are the professionals actually saying? Temperatures In general, without an El Nino or La Nina weather pattern, it looks to be a moderate winter. The National Oceanic…

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Butterfly ring *FREE template*

Photo of a little girl holding a butterfly ring

We love pollinators, and we love sharing that love with others through education and fun. At the 2019 Bee & Butterfly Festival, visitors could create a fun butterfly ring with a simple cardstock template and a pipe cleaner. You can create your own by downloading our free template below, and then all you need is…

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