Dundalk Elementary Grade 5 scientists first to observe Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper in Baltimore County


Dundalk Elementary Grade 5 scientists first to observe Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper in Baltimore County

Grade 5 students from Dundalk Elementary School visited Marshy Point Nature Center on November 27 for their BioBlitz field study and found a species of grasshopper no one had ever reported finding in Baltimore County.

BioBlitz is a three-hour field study in which students collect data on all the living and once-living organisms found within an area of their local park. This data will be analyzed by students when completing the Grade 5 BioBlitz unit to identify evidence of the flow of energy and the cycling of matter. With the help of BCPS resource teacher/naturalist Rebecca Ward, Dundalk students collected data from forest and meadow ecosystems.

While collecting insects from the meadow, one group found a Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper. The Maryland Biodiversity project, with whom BCPS shares data, had no reported sightings of this species in Baltimore County. There have been observations of this species in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Dorchester, Howard, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties from as early as December 2017.

Speaking of the students’ discovery, Eric Cromwell, BCPS elementary science coordinator, said, “This is one of the things we are hoping to see more often as we move forward. Our students are really contributing to science!”

According to iNaturalist, the Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper, Leptysma marginicollis, ranges throughout the U.S., Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala. This grasshopper prefers emergent aquatic vegetation like cattail, and at Marshy Point it was found on Phragmites, a large perennial grass. The Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper is recognized by its pointed head and flattened antennae. A spur between its front legs distinguishes it from similar species. Coloration is usually brown, sometimes green, with a white, yellow, or brown stripe from the eye to the base of the front legs.

Great find, Dundalk Grade 5 scientists!

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