Bug Night #12: come early this evening for the best parking

“Those lines on the pavement are there for a reason, you know,” hissed the giant insect to no one in particular. It was doubtful that anyone could hear her; what with all the screeching of brakes, honking, and screaming.

One could see her point, no one seemed to be parking in an orderly fashion. Back at the nest, everyone understood their role and knew their place. It was always a full house but it didn’t seem crowded and everyone was calm. There was no reason not to be calm. What was the problem this evening?

Through the screams she caught snippets of human-speak and tried to understand. It wasn’t easy. Her language was a series of clicks and hisses: mathematical, simple, logical. This sounded like whining. She hated whining. What was the point of complaining?
“…don’t want to be late.”
“All the good forceps will be taken.”
“…can’t use that dim bulbed scope again.”
“There’s a giant bug on my tail!”

It was all unintelligible. Only the screams made sense to her. They gave a clear signal of fear and panic. What possible reason was there to panic?

We don’t recommend panic at Bug Night but there is a sense of urgency. There are only a few sessions left together and we have many vials to go before our journey together ends. Steve and Michele would love an opportunity this year to work on a sample or two to help move us along and have all 2016 samples finished before we begin 2017 field work.

Bug Night #11: don’t walk—run!

“How will we get them to come back to Bug Night?” asked the male White Coat, “I worry about losing momentum and interest after taking off last week for that conference presentation.”

The male White Coat wrung his hands. The things he worried about, the female White Coat thought. She was busy counting chocolate bars and making sure there was enough alcohol. It was only 5:50 PM. She was happy to have a few moments of cool, calm set-up time in the relaxing darkness of the laboratory.

“What if they forget?” he pressed, “What if the weather is too nice? What if they are tired of looking at dead bugs?”

The last sentence hung in the air like evaporating denatured alcohol. Come to think of it, why would anyone want to spend three hours each week looking at dead bugs, he thought. Both were struck momentarily with the absurdity of the Bug Nights conceit and construct. What if, indeed? He felt as if he were in a cartoon where he ran off a cliff and was fine until he looked down.

As he droned on with his insecurities and doubts, the female White Coat’s mind drifted. She gazed out the window and looked across the field facing the laboratory.

“I don’t think it will be a problem,” she said.

Bug Night #11 is next week—and a message for Franklinites

They seemed like an odd trio. One was nattily dressed and sported a neatly trimmed beard. One appeared to be a banker in a sharkskin suit and was clean shaven. The other sported a timeless, segmented exoskeleton and antennae. They clustered at the back door of the laboratory building, shading their eyes to peer in.

“The lights are off,” said the antennaeed one, “I can only see the glow of the aquaria.”

The suited men pulled on the door handle and confirmed that it was locked and that the “Bug Night of the Living Dead” poster was not on the entry display.

“Did you check your email?” asked the bearded man.

“How can I check email?” asked his bug-eyed friend, “I have only pedipalps, do you have any idea how long it would take just to type my user name?”

A quick check of the Bug Nights email from April 11 confirmed that yes, there was no Bug Night on Wednesday, April 12.

The banker observed that a night off, while a bitter disappointment, would give them all time to rest for the big push to identify everything and everyone before laboratory work ended in less than a month.

The insect had no where to go with the laboratory being her home since January. She decided to burrow under the laboratory building’s foundation until then. The men drove away despondent but excited about next week’s challenges.


Bug Night #10: tough ID

We’ve all been there, he thought. A tough macroinvertebrate identification can pull you in and make you feel like you are drowning—except, this wasn’t happening in the St. Paul’s School laboratory. It was real.

All that he could do was utter a guttural protest as the insect pushed him under for the third time. He was soaking wet. Was it water or was it insect spit?

If only I could see if the macroinvertebrate had a dorsal hump, he thought, then I would know that it was a Leptoceridae. The insect continued to be perverse: concealing its dorsal hump by displaying itself ventrally.

The insect kept pushing him underwater—except it wasn’t water. It was denatured alcohol; possibly mixed with insect spit. His mind spun as he thought, why did I take so much denatured alcohol? Don’t the White Coats carefully ration it, especially at this time in the Bug Night season?

The insect pushed harder, mandibles closing around his throat as its tarsi pointed menacingly toward his eyes. He could smell the alcohol on the insect’s breath—he could smell it everywhere: cloying, ubiquitous, nauseating. He shuddered and gasped as he awoke in a cold sweat in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning. Last week he had had some tough IDs but that dream…

I haven’t missed it, he thought, I can be at Bug Night tonight in less than twelve hours. His body relaxed. He rolled over and heard a strange, brittle crinkle. There was a KitKat on his bed pillow, which was shaped like a stereo microscope.

He gasped. Am I awake? Am I still dreaming?

It’s not a dream. It’s all real. There will be chocolate. The doors open at six on Wednesday. Please click rapidly on the windows with your tarsi should you arrive a bit late. We are on a serious roll thanks to you. We can’t wait to see you there.