Everyone could feel it from the moment they entered the building on Wednesday evening. There was a jubilant and giddy air in the St. Paul’s School laboratory. Was it the beautiful cake that the Program Director and Sampling Supervisor had procured for the Bug Night volunteers? Was it the lovely spring weather and it being light out so late in the evening? Was it that there was a real possibility that the assembled citizen scientists could complete all of the 2015 field season’s specimens’ identifications?
Whatever the reason, the citizen scientists moved through the laboratory. From selecting their favorite stereo microscope to collecting their forceps, pipettes, dissecting needles, and squirt bottles of alcohol, their movements seemed like second nature; the result of habits honed over a long laboratory season. Some of the volunteers eschewed their identification keys saying that they knew every bug in the book. Soon, a quiet concentration settled over the laboratory. The silence spoke volumes about the focus of these dedicated volunteers.
“I think that I have identified all of my macroinvertebrates,” called out one of the more confident and hungry volunteers as if at a bingo night in a church basement, “Can we eat cake, now?”
“Not so fast,” said an unfamiliar voice, “What about me?”
The once confident volunteer shrieked, “My arm—what’s on my arm?”
“I’m on your arm and I have not yet been identified,” came the raspy reply.
The laboratory went silent when everyone saw the large, six-legged creature crawling up the arm of the sugar-deprived volunteer.
“What am I,” the insect asked, “Chopped liver?”
The Program Manager and Sampling Supervisor both knew that this was no time for cake and the right time for diplomacy. They approached the macroinvertebrate.
“We’re so sorry,” they said, “I don’t think that Gary saw you. He rarely uses a ‘scope and has had his face in a petri dish for most of the night so he may not have noticed you on his arm.” The insect harrumphed and moved to the next work station where a volunteer had set out not only a ‘scope but an identification key. Dutifully, Claudette began to work on the new bug’s identification.
“Well,” he said, “My name is Adam and I think that I am quite easy to identify.” Claudette closed her identification key.
“OK,” said the Sampling Supervisor, who was quickly flipping through chapters of McCafferty, “It says here that you are terrestrial and like sugar.”
“Yes,” agreed Adam, “and your cake will do for a start.”
“It will have to do for an end as well,” said the Program Manager, “Tonight is the last Bug Night—it’s the end for all of us for 2016.”
“I hope not,” said Adam, “I invited all of my friends.”
Be sure to be there for the last of the bugs and the first of the cake. The doors click open for the last time this year on Wednesday, May 25 at 6:15 PM. #BugNights