Blog

7 reasons why the IRVM program is important to Dickinson County

Photo of prairie in bloom

Iowa was one of the first states to establish an Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program. Since its inception in the 1970s, more than 50,000 acres of federal, state, county and city roadsides have been planted to native grasses and wildflowers. (Read about the state program here.) Dickinson County began its IRVM program in 2015, and…

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Monarchs and tachinid flies

Photo of tachinid fly pupae

A monarch butterfly chrysalis is usually a brilliant color spotted with golden dots. However, sometimes something goes wrong — and one day, we spotted a chrysalis that was beginning to turn brown. At the bottom of the container that the chrysalis was in inside of our monarch enclosure in Pollinator Paradise were three brown, egg-shaped…

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OE affects monarch butterflies

Photo of monarch with crumpled wings

In the monarch enclosure and in the wild, we have come across monarch butterflies that hatch with crumpled wings. That is a sign that the butterfly is infected with ophyrocystis elektroscirrha, or OE. As if these butterflies didn’t have enough to deal with — like excessive pesticide use, their lack of habitat and native food…

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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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