The Burning Man desert festival may have a problem with a 'plague' of biting bugs

Festival organisers say the problem is not as bad as has been made out, but add that festivalgoers should be prepared for bugs

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The excitement and anticipation for legendary US festival Burning Man has been tempered with concerns that the desert campsite is becoming infested with tiny biting bugs.

The rumour that the bugs would take over this year's festival and ruin the experience spread like wildfire online, mostly amongst people who have paid hundreds and even thousands of dollars to attend the week-long festival, which begins on 30 August.

Burning Man, an annual celebration of alternative living and culture, takes place in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.

The festival peaks with the burning of a giant wooden effigy, for which attendees flock from across the pop-up city that appears in the middle of the desert every year.

'Burners', as attendees are known, already have to deal with dust and baking sun, so the rumour that tiny biting insects would flock to the festival posed a real challenge to the festival's positive ethos.

Fortunately, the organisers of the festival have reassured the Burners that the insect problem has been overstated.

In a blog post, they write: "So are there bugs in Black Rock City [the name for the festival camp]? Yes. 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."

"But despite the rampant rumors, these bugs are more of a mild nuisance than a full-blown infestation that should cause any major concern with Burning Man participants."

It's hoped that the continuing hot weather and the arrival of tens of thousands of Burners will get rid of the bug problem, but that can't be guaranteed.

One of the festival's core principles is radical self-reliance, so the organisers recommend that those looking to avoid the bugs try not to draw attention to themselves with bright lights and dark clothing.

The challenge of surviving the festival in the inhospitable conditions is one of the core parts of Burning Man, so the organisers see any bug problems as just another part of the experience.


The bug problem may have been overstated, but they still may be a thorn in the side of the festival.

However, no amount of bugs would be enough to deter the Burning Man faithful, many of whom travel from across the US and the world to adopt a new lifestyle and take advantage of the alternative attractions at the festival.