Rumors started swirling earlier this week that Burning Man had been infested by tons of different bugs. We’re not talking like a couple of mosquitos or flies, we’re talking literally millions of little biting critters. It’s definitely an infestation and definitely one of the worst things we’ve ever heard come out of the Playa.
Yesterday, the festival’s official blog has reported:
You may have seen the bug rumors on the internet. We are here to tell you that they are all true. Well, maybe not all of the rumors, but the bugs are real. They’re everywhere. They bite. They crawl all over you. They get up and in you.
Twin Peaks, who’s leading the construction of the Center Café, was talking about how bad they are when she jumped a little and pulled her t-shirt away from her body. A good-sized green bug fell to the ground. It had crawled into her bra.
Metal Shop Heather wears a welding mask most of the day. Bugs have crawled up inside her visor and nestled around her eyes. Cammy and Stinger needed some help from the medical team to deal with the infestation; Stinger’s back was covered with nasty red welts from the bites.
Tons of video and photos have started coming out the Playa as the volunteers and workers prepare for the nearly 66,000 people who will start showing up in a couple of weeks.
So what gives? Insect expert Alex Wild explained to Gizmodo that when it comes to desert bugs:
“Desert species are prone to boom/bust cycles,” Wild explained. And then he offered a ray of hope for Burners heading to the desert in a couple of weeks: “[They] may just be passing through.”
So that could either be good or bad news, depending on how long the boom could last. Right now things are looking f*cking gross. Just take one look at this Vine video.
[protected-iframe id=”39ac90379f5daf217fa4d71b147a748e-3508545-22621496″ info=”https://vine.co/v/eDZVg6EnhXe/embed/simple” width=”656″ height=”656″ frameborder=”0″]
And now for the photos:
With the help of videos, photos, and other information given by people at Black Rock City, Wild has actually identified the species of bugs that are pissing everyone off. First off, the bugs found in Photo #1 (above).
According to Wild, the big green bugs you see are probably stink bugs in the family Pentatomidae. Another entomologist, Karl Magnacca, noted on Twitter that they might be in the family Miridae. Either way, they’re definitely stinkers. These bugs are very common in the US, and emit a strong odor when disturbed. Some people compare the smell to coriander. These insects are also attracted to light, which is bad news for a festival that is famous for its amazing light displays. [source]
So what the hell are those little white things in the carpet in Photo #2?
These are most likely Nysius, or seed bugs. Magnacca thinks there are actually two other specieshere along with Nysius, one of which is probably in the family Miridae too. These guys also release a terrible smell, and they like to poke their probiscises into people’s skin. Which hurts. But they’re actually not biting or attacking — a probiscis is more like a long, hollow tongue. These are desert bugs, and they look for water everywhere, including in your skin. [source]
Regardless of what’s infesting the desert, there’s only one group of mammals that are happy about the bugs.