Bug Night #3: don’t fear the leeches

The White Coat returned the Bug Night-er’s petri dish after the obligatory quality control check.

“Nice work—there was a leech curled up under the oak leaf fragment, be sure to click it into your counts.”

“OK,” he said sheepishly. This was the third time this season that he missed the leech.

It was the same for everyone that evening. Leeches, planarians… They looked like they could be anything but macroinvertebrates.

That night he had a dream. The leeches of Bug Nights past visited him. For specimens that he hadn’t even noticed over the last two weeks, they were surprisingly talkative.

“Did you miss me?” asked the belly leach.

“What about me?” queried the chest leech.

“How could you have missed me?” asked the leech that inched toward his chin.

“You kind of suck at sorting,” opined the belly button hirudnean.

The ribcage leech echoed the sentiment, “Yeah, you kind of bite at it.”

The Bug Night-er awoke with a gasp. It was Wednesday morning. He would never again miss a leech.

Bug Night-ers are out for blood and are sliding toward clearing all of the trays this week. Let’s see how many leeches we don’t miss tomorrow, Wednesday, February 28 beginning at 6:00 PM sharp.

When you arrive, suction your finger tips onto the door or windows so that one of your new or returning friends can admit you. Everyone is welcomed.

Bug Night #2: a fistful of insects

Her statement at Bug Nights was dramatic and unequivocal.

“I’ve got a fist full of insects and they are burning a hole in my pocket.”

The White Coats glanced up from their quality control checks and exchanged looks across the laboratory. The she-volunteer’s statement hung in the air. Everyone tried to look busy but wondered what she meant. Did she have too many bugs in the three randomly chosen squares on her tray? Did she overload her petri dish? Was it some kind of show about her prodigious work? Or, was she packing in her own specimens from home to make a splash at Bug Night?

All that could be heard was the cricket-like clicking of forceps, hand counters, and dissecting needles.

“I never thought of bugs as currency,” ventured a quiet voice.

“Nor had I,” offered another voice, “If they were, we would all be rich.”

In true Bug Night tradition, a lively discussion ensued among the diverse volunteers. Over the clicking, the White Coats picked out snippets of the conversation from the companionable murmurings.

“… would buy an electron microscope so that I could see water bears.”
“Tardigrades are cool… Are they for sale?”
“How can there really be anal prolegs?”
“… would buy my own laboratory and have Bug Nights all year long.”
“Think of the candy we could buy with bug currency…”

“What do I do with all these bugs?” asked the dramatic volunteer.

“Subsample them,” came a harmonious, multi-voice reply as if on cue.

In a sheepish and undramatic manner, she emptied the fistful of insects back into her petri dish and resumed sorting.

We are in the heat of bulk processing and have bugs to burn. See a bug—sort a bug. We want to get to the identification part as as soon as inhumanly possible so the only question right now should be: “Is this a bug or something else?”

You are all something else, indeed. Thank you for your productive work last week. Let’s see how many trays we can clear tomorrow, Wednesday, February 21 beginning at 6:00 PM sharp.

When you arrive, click on the door or windows so that one of your new or returning friends can admit you. Everyone is welcomed.

Bug Night #1: is it safe to go back in?

“There are so many,” whispered the young boy, “I don’t remember there being so many.”

“Son,” answered his father, “It can seem daunting but we are among friends; bug friends but friends nonetheless.” He didn’t sound confident. They both became quiet.

The buzzing and clicking from the insects seemed to be a blur or white noise. As the moments passed, they began to hear a pattern in the insect noises. The pattern was like mathematics or music—perhaps both.

“Listen,” hissed the father, “Do you hear it?”

The strain of listening was physically exhausting. As if a fog was clearing, from the pattern or music, a message emerged.

“Get out get out getout getout getoutgetoutgetout…”

The boy screamed. “We have to get out—now!.”

“Wait,” said the father while hushing his now irrational son, “Listen.”

“…of the car the car thecar thecar thecarthecarthecarthecar and come into the lab, the lab thelab thelabthelabthelabthelab.”

Through the laboratory windows, they could see a hive of activity. Bug Nighters were returning from a long hibernation and were buzzing with excitement. It was as if they reactivated just by being in the warm, glowing laboratory again. Outside, arriving Bug Nighters were crawling on the building walls and clicking on the windows of the classroom and laboratory; begging to be let in.

“Son,” said the father as he pulled the boy by the arm out in to the parking lot, “We’re home.”

The boy’s scream froze silently in his throat.

Who says you can’t go home again? Finally, the first Bug Night of 2018 is on Wednesday, February 14 and begins with a training and refresher at 6:00 PM sharp.

Click on the door or window. Everyone is welcomed.