So what does this have to do with natural history, bugs or NIC or anything else for that matter? A lot. We do not tend to think at the unique level. It is only our experience that takes a wetland, a desert, a species, a look, a moment of time or anything else and makes it special to us - that is, separates it from all the rest and allows us to recognize and appreciate it for what it is - truly unique.
With that in mind I would like to share some of my experiences in a small part of the area around NIC. It had its own character and its own wildlife. It was one of the most productive areas on the Bug Walks last year. The group could easily spend 20-30 minutes there without any problem finding interesting bugs in the vegetation. It had a large population of harlequin bugs - in fact, it was the only stop on the walk where I was sure to find them. Often we could find immature ones and occasionally mating pairs. On most occasions we could find a couple of species of ladybug sometimes their larvae as well. As the season progressed we found pupal cases and one morning prior to a walk I was fortunate enough to watch a mature unspotted (California?) ladybug emerge from its pupal case and begin its new life. On one walk we found a bola spider and on another a four-spurred assassin bug - both of these are the first and only ones I have ever seen. There was a species of aphid there that I only found in that area. On one walk the local "tree" swarmed with green fruit beetles; at another time it contained the largest green lynx spider I have yet to see. There were lots of insects even after most of the vegetation had died and turned brown. The children found them easy to capture, sometimes in their hands, sometimes in the small bug boxes provided, and proudly showed them off to their parents and the other participants. After everyone had had a good look, the insects were released back into the vegetation. All this occurred in a small piece of urban wasteland maybe 10 feet by 10 feet. It was a special place.
You all know this area - you pass it every time you come to NIC. There is a bicycle rack there now and the new NIC parking lot. It is still unique but in a much different way. It will serve as a reminder to me. Our whole existence is unique - from the atoms that constitute us to the experiences we undergo - although the terms we often use to describe it would deny this fact. As Walter Cronkite used to say, "It was a day like any other day except you were there!"
Ron Lyons (volunteer 1990-1999)