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Isopod Field Trip

Many of us have childhood memories of touching a pillbug and watching it roll into a ball, thus earning the nicknames “pillbug” and “roly-poly”.  Pillbugs and their cousin “sowbugs” are known collectively as terrestrial isopods.  Fossil records indicate that terrestrial isopods shared the earth with dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period, 65-145 million years ago.  Nowadays, 22 species of terrestrial isopods have been documented in Maryland throughout the year and from a wide variety of habitats. On this first-of-its-kind MBP field trip, we will focus on these fascinating crustaceans that play an important ecological role by eating decaying organic matter.

Join trip leader Dave Webb at Marshy Point Park in eastern Baltimore County for a short hike with several stops to search for terrestrial isopods (and other arthropods) that inhabit in and under decayed logs, leaf litter, and other hiding places.  Along the way, Dave will discuss basic isopod anatomy, share tips on finding and identifying isopods, and point out features to photograph for documentation.

Philoscia muscorum
An orange morph Philoscia muscorum, photographed by Dave Webb in Frederick County, 12/25/2019.
a European Sowbug (Oniscus asellus), photographed by Jim Moore in Carroll County, 3/21/2020.
A European Sowbug (Oniscus asellus), photographed by Jim Moore in Carroll County, 3/21/2020.

Field Trip Details
Contact Dave Webb, porzana at comcast dot net, to register.
Saturday, October 29th, 2022
8am – noon
Marshy Point Nature Center
7130 Marshy Point Rd
Middle River, MD 21220
Coordinates: 39.3481 N, 76.3712 W
Maximum number of participants
4 hours
Port-a-pots are available at the parking lot; indoor public bathrooms are available at the Nature Center (opens at 9 am).
COVID-19 related protocols
None (outdoor event)
Trip leader notes
All participants should bring water, hiking boots, and weather-suitable clothing.  Optional items include gloves, kneepads, loupe, snack and camera.  This will be a slow-paced walk with lots of stops along the way. Leave-no-trace guidelines will be followed, and park regulations do not allow for collecting of specimens.
Trip leader(s)
Dave Webb, porzana at comcast dot net

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