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Rare flora, fauna and bugs (lots of bugs)

FALLS VILLAGE — Students at Housatonic Valley Regional High School got an unusual lecture from a team of environmental experts on Thursday, April 29.

Woods Sinclair, chairman of the Falls Village Conservation/Inland Wetlands Commission, introduced Ken Metzler (retired Connecticut state botanist), Dave Wagner from the University of Connecticut, Laura Saucier from the state Department of Environmental Protection and Dave Gumbart of The Nature Conservancy.

The experts explained to the students that Falls Village  has an abundance of unique sites — among them Robbins Swamp, the area from Point of Rocks along Sand Road, and the former Dean Christmas tree farm in what is now the Hollenbeck preserve.

Thriving in these and other areas are natural treaures — rare butterflies, such as the Columbine dusky wing and the northern metalmark; wetland orchids (“very hard to find,” said Metzler); and bugs. Lots of bugs. Wagner, a self-described “bug guy,” described the area as “hyper-diverse.”

“You’ve got a bug for every season,” he said cheerfully.

“Every organism has the potential to improve the human condition,” he went on. “Organisms are our canary in the coal mine. We can judge water quality by looking at stoneflies, dragonflies. Equipment can measure water quality now, but insects tell us the history.

“One bug can indicate the health of an entire taxonomic community.”

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