Not a murder hornet

Ah the soothing sounds of summer, the Nighthawk’s peent call and the buzzing of the cicadas. It is the latter sound that brings a fearsome looking creature to sandy and dry spots of your lawn or flower pots on your porch in late July and into August. It is large, 1.5 to 2 inches in length, large wings, and is curious (territorial) about your presence near their tunnels. But never fear, dear reader, these are Cicada Killers, and if that sounds ominous, unless you are a Cicada you are not in any danger!

These large native species of solitary digger wasps are in the family Crabronidae. They look like giant hornets or huge yellow-jackets but these wasps are not aggressive and as such is not likely to sting unless directly handled (yeah, like that’s gonna happen!). To identify look for a dull brown head, with a small yellow patch on the face. The thorax is dull brown to orange and there are three broken bands of yellow on its black abdomen.

The males have no stingers (whew!) and emerge first to establish territory and to joust with other males. When the females emerge (they have the stingers, more on that later) they will begin to dig tunnels. The tunnels are “nurseries” for their young. These wasps are not social insects, like honey bees, so several might share a good nesting site, but each female has her own tunnels.

Females locate a cicada, sting it to cause paralysis (that’s the reason she has a stinger), brings it back to her tunnels, either by flying, or coasting down from the tree as the cicada is bigger than she. The cicada will then be dragged and stuffed into the tunnel, with perhaps one or two more. She will then lay an egg under the left or right second leg of the cicada and seal the tunnel. The egg will hatch in a few days, and the developing larva will consume the cicada as it grows during the next two weeks. Once the larva is full grown, it spins a silken cocoon in which it will remain until the following summer. It will then exit the cocoon, enter the pupal stage and then emerge as an adult. When once again the fearful will shout, “Murder Hornet!”

Watch for this fascinating and wonderful creature but play it safe, especially if you are allergic to stinging insects. Try not to step on one, squeeze one in your hand, or harass the insect, as it might sting you. Just a note it will not go out of its way to harm you, (leave it alone) they are just participating in the circle of life.

Diana Flynn has happily joined the staff at Jefferson County Conservation as an office assistant. She has many years of office management and customer service experience and is looking forward to working with staff and park visitors. She will be in the office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

Summer Nature Olympics

Turn your child into a nature Olympian! Four weeks throughout the summer we will host programs at two different times allowing youth to practice and compete in an activity. We will score participants in each activity and have an overall winner from the summer. Participants can come to all four activities or just one. We ask that participants only come to one program a week. All sessions will meet at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center EXCEPT for Kayaking which will meet at Shelter #3 in Jefferson County Park.

Youth Entering 3rd through 7th Grade
$5 per session
1:00-3:00pm
Pre-registration required– Click on the date/ time you would like to register for

Spear Throwing (Choose 1)
Tuesday, June 7
Wednesday, June 8

Fire Starting (Choose 1)
Tuesday, June 28
Wednesday, June 29

Archery (Choose 1)
Tuesday, July 12 (FULL)
Wednesday, July 13 (FULL)

Kayaking (Choose 1)
Tuesday, August 2 (FULL)
Wednesday, August 3 (FULL)

Please note:

  • We ask that adults do not attend Summer Nature Olympics as it allows participants to better explore and try new things.
  • Camps are set up for students who will be entering the listed grade during the summer

Join Jefferson County Conservation for a summer of fun! We have a great line up sure to peak your outdoor adventurers’ interest!

Registration opens April 1st at 6:00am

Summer Nature Camps
4 & 5 Years                Caterpillar Camp                     May 31-June 3
4 & 5 Years                Caterpillar Camp                     June 7-10
1st-2nd Grade           Tadpole Camp                           June 14-17 (Morning Session)
1st-2nd Grade           Tadpole Camp                           June 14-17 (Afternoon Session)
2nd-3rd Grade          Nature Detectives                   June 28-July 1
3rd-4th Grade           Amateur Astronomers         July 12-14
4th-5th Grade           Fishing Camp                            July 5-7
5th-6th Grade           Best of the Best                        July 19-22
6th-8th Grade           Overnight Explorers             June 21-22

You may only sign your child up for one camp (does NOT include Summer Nature Olympics) during the month of April to give more participants the opportunity to attend.


Summer Nature Olympics

Turn your child into a nature Olympian! Four weeks throughout the summer we will host programs at two different times allowing youth to practice and compete in an activity. We will score participants in each activity and have an overall winner from the summer. Participants can come to all four activities or just one. We ask that participants only come to one program a week. All sessions will meet at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center EXCEPT for Kayaking which will meet at Shelter #3 in Jefferson
Youth Entering 3rd through 7th Grade
$5 per session
1:00-3:00pm
Pre-registration required– Click on the date/ time you would like to register for

Spear Throwing (Choose 1)
Tuesday, June 7
Wednesday, June 8

Fire Starting (Choose 1)
Tuesday, June 28
Wednesday, June 29

Archery (Choose 1)
Tuesday, July 12
Wednesday, July 13

Kayaking (Choose 1)
Tuesday, August 2
Wednesday, August 3

Please note:

  • We ask that adults do not attend Summer Nature Camp or Olympics as it allows participants to better explore and try new things.
  • Camps are set up for students who will be entering the listed grade during the summer

We are offering spring break camps for students in pre-school through 6th grade. Each camp is $10 and has a limited number of participants.

Pre-School                       Tuesday, March 22           9:00am-11:30am
K & 1st Grade                  Tuesday, March 22           1:00-3:30pm
2nd-3rd Grade                Wednesday, March 23     9:00am-11:30am
4th-6th Grade                 Wednesday, March 23     1:00-3:30pm

JEFFERSON COUNTY CONSERVATION BOARD
Public Notice
Round Prairie Park Change of Use Proposal
9/1/2021

The Jefferson County Conservation Board is considering changes in the management of Round Prairie Park for the following reasons…
– Declining use including usage that doesn’t fit the mission of the JCCB.
– Low revenue and increasing expenses.
Round Prairie Park in south east Jefferson County was developed by the Jefferson County Conservation Board in the mid 1970’s. Amenities include a campground with electric hookups and rural water available, a shelter, and a pit toilet. The site also contains large areas of native prairie. It was once a popular spot for area residents to camp and picnic.
In recent years the development of Jefferson County Park and improvements to Mac Coon access have led to a shift and increase of campers to those areas. During the last few years many of south east Iowa’s state and county parks have seen increases in use as well.

Phase 1
The Board will begin to allow the area to be used for Public Hunting beginning in the fall of 2022.
Water and electric will no longer be available after January 1, 2023. The electric boxes will be relocated to improve the west campsites at Mac Coon Access.
The outdated playground will be removed.
Mowing will be reduced to include the shelter, pit toilet, campground, and shoulders of the road. Primitive camping will be allowed with registration required and a 14day limit.
Prairie will be seeded to the newly un-mowed areas and remnants will be maintained through burning, and tree and brush removal.

Phase 2
The following steps will be taken based on the condition of remaining facilities and may be moved up if problems continue.
Demolish Shelter & Pit Toilet.
Abandon Road and Campground.
Maintain Parking areas along Tamarack.
Area will continue to be managed as a wildlife/public hunting area with an emphasis on preserving the native prairie remnants.

If you have questions or concerns about these changes call 641-472-4421.

Shelter use at Jefferson County Park has seen an increase over the last year. Beginning on Monday, January 3rd, shelters will be available for online reservations. Park users can go to our Shelters page to see the available dates and make their reservation. Shelters may be reserved from the last weekend in April through the end of October.
Shelters 1, 2, and the Gazebo will all be available for $20 for the entire day. Shelter 3 will be available for $40 per day. There will be no half day rentals. There will be a $4 processing fee added at the time of payment. Reservations must be made three days in advance of the reserved date.
For more information or to make your cabin reservations, head to the Shelters page.

The Jefferson County Conservation Board and staff would like to thank Kathy Tollenaere and Wayne Atwood for their many years of service. Tollenaere volunteered on the Board for 19 years while Atwood volunteered 17 years. Many significant improvements have been made to Jefferson County Conservation’s areas and programs during their years of service. Gavin Stever and Molly Mosinski have been appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve beginning in January.

We are offering winter nature camps for students in pre-school through 7th grade. Each camp is $10 unless noted and has a limited number of participants.

Pre-School           Tuesday, December 21st, 9:00-11:30am
Kindergarten      Wednesday, December 22nd, 9:00-11:30am
1st Grade             Tuesday, December 21st, 1:00-3:30pm
2nd Grade           Wednesday, December 22nd, 1:00-3:30pm
3rd Grade            Tuesday, December 28th, 9:00-11:30am
4th Grade            Tuesday, December 28th, 1:00-3:30pm
5th Grade            Wednesday, December 29th, 9:00-11:30am
6th-7th Grade     Thursday, December 30th, 10:00am-2:00pm

Registration opens November 1st at 9:00am and must be completed online.

Turn your child into a nature Olympian! Four weeks throughout the summer we will host programs at two different times allowing youth to practice and compete in an activity. We will score participants in each activity and have an overall winner from the summer. Participants can come to all four activities or just one. We ask that participants only come to one program a week.
Youth Entering 3rd through 7th Grade
Free
Pre-registration required- Click on the date/ time you would like to register for

Spear Throwing (Choose 1)
June 8 from 3:30-5:30pm
June 9 from 1:00-3:00pm

Fire Starting (Choose 1)
June 29: 3:30-5:30pm
June 30: 1:00pm-3:00pm

Kayaking (Choose 1)
July 13:1:00pm-3:00pm
July 15: 3:30-5:30pm

Archery (Choose 1)
July 26:1:00pm-3:00pm
July 27: 3:30-5:30pm

Please note:

  • We ask that adults do not attend camp as it allows participants to better explore and try new things.
  • All sessions will meet at the Jefferson County Park Nature Center EXCEPT for Kayaking which will meet at Shelter #3 in Jefferson County Park.