Quantcast

The 'Great Burning Man Plague of 2015'

’’‘It's being called the "great Burning Man plague of 2015." And no it's not all the wealthy tech elite who have been accused of ruining the ethos of the festival. It's a bug infestation. The Twitterverse has been abuzz (pun fully intended) leading up to the annual "burn," and earlier this week one of the organizers, John Curley, confirmed the bug rumors on the Burning Man blog.

First, for those who aren't familiar, Burning Man is a week-long annual event that began in San Francisco in 1986 and migrated to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. At its most basic, the event is described as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression and radical self-reliance. But if you listen to a festivalgoer, that is just the beginning of what the annual event really is. Burners—as they call themselves—wax poetic about "the mind-altering experience of Burning Man."

The festival has become massive, turning out some 60,000 people (making the Black Rock's population swell to more than Nevada's state capital for a week). Whether you think the festival is just "all dusty hippies and Silicon Valley tech bros at a giant desert rave" or a radical experiment in anti-capitalist ecotopia living, one thing is for sure. This year, the festival has a serious bug problem.

"You may have seen the bug rumors on the internet," wrote Curley. "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."

Read page 1

Curley explains what they think has caused the infestation: "Due to unseasonably wet weather, the grass on the hills is unusually verdant, and that’s resulted in more bugs showing up in the desert than usual. There are green beetles called stink bugs (so-called because they emit a coriander-like odor when disturbed), mosquitos, and gnat-like seed bugs called Nysius. One entomologist reports that they might be causing skin irritations not because they’re biting, but because they’ve likely been eating mustard seed, which has been proliferating in the region recently, and the mustard oil irritates the skin when the bugs are smashed."

A burner shows her welts from the bugs. Photo credit: Burning Man blog

He is quick to downplay the bug problem, saying "these bugs are more of a mild nuisance than a full-blown infestation that should cause any major concern with Burning Man participants." Desert bugs, including species of Nysius, tend to move in massive swarms looking for food and water. “Desert species are prone to boom/bust cycles,” entomologist Alex Wild told Gizmodo. “[They] may just be passing through.” For some insight into the media hype about the bugs, Chris Taylor at Mashable has a great piece on why everyone needs to "chill out."

Organizers and the tens of thousands of participants who will descend on "the Playa," as the area is called, are hoping that Wild is right. Burning Man officially begins August 30 and runs through Sept. 7.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

World’s First Solar Powered Airport Has Arrived

Back-to-School Warning: Head Lice Now Resistant to Treatment in 25 States

The Drought in California Is So Bad the Ground Is Literally Sinking

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

The world's population will hit 10 billion in just 30 years and all of those people need to eat. To feed that many humans with the resources Earth has, we will have to cut down the amount of beef we eat, according to a new report by the World Resources Institute.

Read More Show Less

Beachgoers enjoying a pleasant evening on Georgia's St. Simons Island rushed into the water, despite warnings of sharks, to rescue dozens of short-finned pilot whales that washed ashore on Tuesday evening, according to the New York Times.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less

Six Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested as they blocked off corporations in the UK. The group had increased their actions to week-long nationwide protests.

Read More Show Less
Sari Goodfriend

By Courtney Lindwall

Across the world, tens of thousands of young people are taking to the streets to protest climate inaction. And at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem last month, more than a dozen of them took to the stage.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pumpjacks on Lost Hills Oil Field in California. Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons

By Julia Conley

A national conservation group revealed Wednesday that President Donald Trump's drilling leases on public lands could lead to the release of more carbon emissions than the European Union contributes in an entire year.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Marlene Cimons

For nearly a century, scientists thought that malaria could only spread in places where it is really hot. That's because malaria is spread by a tiny parasite that infects mosquitoes, which then infect humans — and this parasite loves warm weather. In warmer climates, the parasite grows quickly inside the mosquito's body. But in cooler climates, the parasite develops so slowly that the mosquito will die before the it is fully grown.

Read More Show Less
The summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which is considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians. Charmian Vistaunet / Design Pics / Getty Images

A decade-long fight over the proposed construction of a giant telescope on a mountain considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians came to a head Wednesday when 33 elders were arrested for blocking the road to the summit, HuffPost Reported.

Read More Show Less