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Salt Marsh Grasshopper

Orchelium fidicinium

Where it was photographed:  Across from the Interpretation Center in the lower end of Island Beach State Park.

These unique grasshoppers exist by the thousands in the estuary and marsh.  They feed off the grass directly -- mostly cord grass.

Salt marsh grasshoppers are said to account for some of the use of the cord grass (said to be 10% or less).  The majority of cord grass is broken down and consumed by fungi and bacteria to become detritus (a.k.a “marine soup”).  This grasshopper is very unique because it has adapted to the harsh conditions of the estuary.  Changing oxygen levels, changing temperatures, and changing salt levels make the marshes of the estuary a harsh environment to adapt to.  Any species that has adapted to this environment is a “super hero of adaptation.”  It is the only species of grasshopper that thrives throughout the marsh.