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Painted butterfly

You likely have seen a lot of painted lady butterflies this year. They are the adult version of thistle caterpillars, which even got the attention of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig this week.

“Overall, crops around the state are in good condition. Seasonable temperatures helped mitigate some crop stress in regions that received below-average rainfall,” Naig said commenting on this week’s crop condition report. “I’m also hearing reports of thistle caterpillars and gray leaf spot so I encourage farmers to scout their fields.”

The caterpillars like soybean leaves, but their menu includes more than 300 other plants, including sunflowers, according to Iowa State University Extension. The butterflies have orange-brown wings with a span that reaches between 2 and 3 inches.

— CHRIS BALDUS