Bug Night: the bitter end

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

Bug Night: Hello, My Name is “Dot”

Slowly, the Sampling Supervisor and volunteer circled the macroinvertebrate.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said the volunteer.

“It looks familiar,” said the Sampling Supervisor, “I know I’ve seen it before.” He asked the Program Manager to take a look. She recognized it as well. She stared at the bug and grew silent. Perhaps she was confusing Bug Nights with an episode of Star Trek or Doctor Who? She kept those thoughts to herself.

“You can start with the McCafferty,” the Program Manager said to the Sampling Supervisor, “I can go through Merritt and Cummins to see if it is in there.”

Everyone groaned. No one liked going through Merritt and Cummins.

“Excuse me,” said the macroinvertebrate, “I might be able to help.” Everyone gasped. Not only did the bug speak perfect English but “it” was, in fact, not an “it” but clearly a “she,” and addressed everyone in a distinctly feminine voice.

“My name is Dot and the last thing I remember is a misstep off a leaf on a tree by the Merrimack River,” said the She-bug, “I fell into a red bucket full of cold water and other macroinvertebrates and then I found myself here under scrutiny.”

“I don’t like water or rocks,” she continued, “I must say that I am not entirely comfortable with this situation and would like to return to my leaf.”

“Cancel the McCafferty and Merritt and Cummins,” said the Sampling Supervisor, “We have one less bug this evening but have met a new friend.”

All of the volunteers, including those who had conducted field collection work apologized for their neutral gender assumption.

They sent Dot on her way with a mini KitKat bar for the road (fortunately one of the younger volunteers had missed the last KitKat during his unauthorized raid on the candy bag). Everyone waved good-bye to Dot, as she headed out the laboratory door to spendor in the grass.

Don’t worry, volunteers, there are still plenty of other bugs. We’ll see you on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 6:15 PM. ‪#‎BugNights

Bug Night: it’s a brave, new world

The man stumbled through the ruins of the city. He was desperate to find anything familiar to help him make his way in this post-apocalyptic world. He was ready to grasp on to the slightest thread that would bring the meaning of his former life back to him: the ghosts of street grids, a landmark, a familiar face. He climbed through the vestiges of his life—corrugated metal roof sheets, woods, fields. Nothing looked familiar. He was despondent. Bereft. Lost.

“I beg your pardon,” said the tractor-trailer-sized insect, “Do you remember me? I used to be at Bug Nights and want to find it again.”

The man was struck dumb. How could such a large insect have appeared so suddenly and quietly? It must be forty feet long. Still, he thought, any port in a storm…

“I don’t remember any macroinvertebrates as macro as you,” the man said.

“I wasn’t always this large,” said the giant bug, “But I like it.”

“Are you still an herbivore?” asked the man.

“I am considering all options,” replied the insect, “But right now, I’ll settle for you pointing me in the direction of Bug Nights.”

All roads lead to Bug Nights: We’ll see you on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 6:15 PM. ‪#‎BugNights

Bug Night: we don’t bite

“I’m not sure that I want to go to Bug Night tonight,” the volunteer whined, “It’s May and the weather is so nice this time of year.”

“Yes,” agreed the Program Director, “It’s a nice, spring night but there are a lot of bugs outside.”

“There are a lot of bugs inside, too,” countered the volunteer.

“Yes,” said the Sampling Supervisor, “But the bugs inside don’t bite.”

We have only a few nights left together and there are plenty of bugs to go around. We are within reach of finishing all of our samples this year.

We’ll see you on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 6:15 PM. ‪#‎BugNights