MJ Hatfield

Insects in MJ’s prairies

Oneota Ant Farm (AKA Plymouth Rock) and Craggy Rocks, Winneshiek County, Iowa

Original planting – Nov 1996;  seeding via a fertilizer spreader.  Carl Kurtz combined prairie seed & chaff and hand collected seed – 25 acres.  Also casual seeding of a 2 acre old hay, mostly brome, field.

This is the original planting; planted 1996; photo from August 4, 2000 – it’s 4th year.


Original planting – along the farm lane.  Photo from August 6, 2015 – its 19th year.


Hidden Prairie was planted in June 2006 with a prairie seed drill.   Carl Kurtz combined prairie seed & chaff, Iowa DNR prairie seed cleanings chaff, Andy Swanson & Ion Exchange seed, plus hand collected seeds.   

Hidden Prairie – photo taken July 6, 2015 – in it’s 9th year


Craggy Rocks was planted in June 2016 using a prairie seed drill, with Prairie Moon Nursery seed and hand collected seed – 13 acres.

Craggy Rocks – photo taken August 5, 2017 – in its 2nd year


Plantings have been augmented with hand collected seed nearly every year and purchased seed periodically.
​​​​“Once a seed collector always a seed collector.” Bruce Ehresman

Perhaps as a result of a dear botanist friend referring to the  original planting as fake, I wondered if life knew the prairie was fake.  The areas are not large enough for grassland birds (besides, they do not require prairie) but what about insects?  So in 2001, tentatively, slowly, I began to look closer at insects (about which I knew nothing) in the planted prairies.

The Prairie Invertebrate Conference was held at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa in the fall of 2001. How exciting, a chance to learn about insects in the prairies!   However I noticed 2 things: where were all the prairie folk? And without common names and photos, I wasn’t able to follow much of the content of the presentations. But I did learn that insects are fascinating and much remains to be discovered about them.

In 2008 I finally took the leap (as it turned out, it was an easy leap) and signed onto BugGuide.  MJ’s BG postings.

Iowa Insect Mailing list

Iowa Native Plants Mailing List

Day of Insects, annual gathering