Burning Man Bugs: Nevada Festival’s Grounds Overrun By Swarming, Stinking Bugs

Burning Man may now be bug fest.

The grounds of the annual music festival set in the Nevada desert are overrun with clouds of flying bugs this year, swarming organizers and stinking up the grounds.

The bugs moved into Black Rock City, the Burning Man festival’s location, and have been multiplying like mad. Those getting ready for the festival have posted pictures of the swarms on Twitter and written about their nasty bites. The Burning Man festival runs from August 30 to September 7.

It got so bad that organizers even addressed it on their blog.

John Curley, an organizer, wrote about the infestation.

“What’s going on? We don’t know. We don’t know how the little critters survive in the heat and the sun. All we know is that if you pick up some wood, you’re likely to uncover hundreds or thousands of the things. They’ve blown up inches deep against the sides of the Commissary tent. They’ve covered the carpets at the Depot. They’re all over the Man Base. So it’s not a localized occurrence, it’s everywhere.

“We don’t know where they came from, but there are two main theories: One is that all the spring and summer rain has hatched critters that lie dormant, or usually come to life at a different time of year. Or maybe they hitchhiked in on a load of wood from somewhere. Or maybe, as Shade postulated out at Man Base, there’s a Johnny Bugseed making the rounds at night, sprinkling them anywhere and everywhere.”

Experts think the bugs plaguing the Burning Man festival are called Nysius, or seed bugs. Entomologist Karl Magnacca told Gizmodo that the infestation likely also included a species called Miridae, which happens to have an awful smell.

The infestation is not considered unusual, even if it is creating plenty of difficulties for those setting up for the festival.


Fortunately for those who who will be traveling from across the country and the world to visit the Burning Man festival, the bugs may be gone by the time they arrive.

“A lot of these things last only a week or two,” Nevada Department of Agriculture state entomologist Jeff Knight told USA Today.

But if the insects aren’t gone, those who attend Burning Man may have more than just the bugs to worry about. There are pictures circulating on social media of swarms of bats on the festival grounds, ones that Nevada Department of Wildlife authorities say are attracted by the bug infestation.

[Image via BurningMan.com]