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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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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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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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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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Fall leaf color guide

Fall is a beautiful time to take a drive to look at all of the beautiful trees changing color. Leaves begin to change color because of the lack of chlorophyll that is present in the spring and summer, revealing the other colors in the leaves that is present beneath the green. The colors present in…

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10 bee questions answered

Photo of a bumblebee gathering pollen

1. How long does a honeybee live? How long does a queen live? A worker bee typically lives six weeks during the summer, and during that time it has a variety of different jobs — nurse, undertaker, architect, cleaner, attendant, guard, forager. (Read more about worker bee jobs here.) However, worker bees that live in…

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The amazing blue orchard mason bee

Photo of a blue orchard mason bee

Do you love fruit? Then you love the blue orchard mason bee. Blue orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are part of a family of bees that are solitary — meaning they live and breed individually instead of socially in a hive, like honeybees — and use clay to make partitions to their nests and to…

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Birds change feathers like people change clothes

Photo of a bald blue jay

You may have noticed that as the seasons change, birds begin to look different. What was a bright eastern goldfinch in the spring becomes a duller hue in the winter. A duck that had vibrant breeding feathers earlier in the year now looks a little drab. That is because birds molt. Their feathers wear out…

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22 flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs for pollinators

Photo of false indigo

If you love pollinators as much as we do, you’re always looking for plants to add to your landscaping that can help provide habitat and food sources. Our pollinator populations are dwindling, and it’s up to us to bring them back. You can truly make a difference even with small pollinator plots at your own…

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Some insects use a proboscis to drink

Photo of milkweed beetle in exhibit

In the Build a Pollinator exhibit inside Pollinator Paradise at the Dickinson County Nature Center, one item that you get to put on your pollinator is a proboscis. Many insects have a proboscis, which is a type of mouthpart that is basically a tube to help the insect suck up nectar. You might have seen…

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