A second generation … and yeah, those bugs

Audrey Pickney

Burning Man is a lot of things, and every time we try to say what it is or isn’t, we fail. But we do know that there are some things that are undeniably true. One of them is that Burning Man is a family affair.

The latest example we present is Audrey Pickney, one of only two second-generation DPW workers. (Welboy’s son, Corey, is the other, but he’s not able to be here this year.)

Audrey is in her second year of working DPW, after three years working with Gate, Perimeter and Exodus. Her mom, Ridge, is a longtime DPW worker who’s also taking a year off this year, so Audrey is holding down the family presence.

She goes to the School of the Art Institute of the Chicago, where she is studying fashion and fibers, the art of sewing. It’s wildly expensive, but a variety of fellowships and grants have her about a semester and a half from graduation.

You’d think it would be a stretch to come out here after the urban art world in Chicago, but she’s been doing it for so long, it seems perfectly normal. Her first year was 2002, when she was nine years old. That’s right, nine, so she’s kind of a poster child for young Burners, too.

Her mom started coming to Burning Man in 2001, and she loved it, and she thought that Audrey would like it, too. So she brought her, and she’s been coming ever since. She’s missed a Burn here and there for school reasons, but still. That’s a lot of her youth spent in the desert.

“I love it here,” she says down at the Depot as the day winds to a close and the heat is finally letting up. “All my people are here. … I love doing work with my hands, I love the desert … like, why would I not?”

Donovan, Ridge and Audrey at last year's DPW parade
Donovan, Ridge and Audrey

She has an infectious laugh, and her manner is easy and open. She seems so natural at an age, 22, when so many others are still trying to figure out who they are, trying on different personas. But she seems as free of artifice as the desert hills. Did coming out to the Burn help her learn how to deal with stressful conditions with grace and humor? Hard to say, but it seems pretty clear that it didn’t hurt.

Does she think that Burning Man, or coming out to work on the build, is the kind of thing that could last for generations? Could it be handed down, complete with legends and stories and oral histories?

“Well, I don’t know,” she says indulgently. “But my grandpa comes here, too.”

That would be Donovan, whom we met last year at one of the most raucous events of Burning Man, the DPW parade. We made sure to take a picture of all three generations who were attending. And we’d seen that before, the multi-generational experience. But we hadn’t heard of many second-generation DPW workers.

The event has a wild reputation, and deservedly so. You can find a lot of what you’re looking for out here, be it personal growth, sexual exploration, spiritual connection. We can say that Burning Man has earned its reputation, so one could arrive expecting to have a completely wild and racy time.

But it’s not always like that. “It’s like a family and a community of people,” Audrey says. “You know, in the real world, we’re all a bunch of fucking weirdos, and we’re all probably kind of a little bit antisocial. But out here, we’re all like that, like, let it all hang out.” She laughs easily again. “You know?” Yes, we know.

“It’s like the perfect little niche. It’s not for everybody, but if it is for you, you definitely know it.”

In other news:

Bugs covered the carpet at the Depot
Bugs covered the carpet at the Depot

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.

Stinger's back was covered with welts
Stinger’s back was covered with welts

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.

Out at Man Base, bugs crawled over everything
Out at Man Base, bugs crawled over everything

We’ve been blessed by fair skies so far during the build. For the first time in the past several years, there’s been no rain or lightning or hail or high winds to bring things to a crawl. But maybe we are making our way around the various plagues, and this year it’s time for pestilence.

Marcia said that one had flown into her mouth gotten lodged between her teeth. She reports that they are quite bitter to the taste.

We don’t know how long it will last. Cobra Commander said at the morning meeting that high temperatures will be with us again today, and the hope is that the heat and the dryness will knock down the bug population. “Because otherwise we’re gonna have to nuke the city” to get rid of them.

Deacon made friends with a praying mantis
Deacon made friends with a praying mantis

About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

147 Comments on “A second generation … and yeah, those bugs

  • fiver says:

    A small fraction of why I go to the burn is the absolute lack of insects. Hearing (and now seeing) these bug reports is not making me a happy camper. I understand the west needs water, but I hope it’s hot and dry for the next 20 days.

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    • Dan Fox says:

      We got eaten alive the first few days of the Trojan Horse build in 2011, especially once we got up to the belly level. Then it faded away to nothing. 2011 had about the best weather I have experienced out there, So maybe the bugs are a good omen. Bring DEET. Relax, you are breathing respirable glass and uranium dust. DEET’s like a rubber band wound next to a shotgun hole.

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    • Mars says:

      I am not a rich girl, I went broke to come to the festival and be at the whim of the desert… But being that I have paralyzing, allergic reactions to bugs I am disheartened to know that the money I’ve spent to burn will now be spent hardly being able to move.

      I hope BM does something to get rid of these bugs, because it’s going to be a very painful trip for me. I will still find my way through, however, without complaint. I can’t afford to have thrown my last $1200 down the drain.

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      • Carrie says:

        Talk with your doctor and have them prescribe you some prednisone, bring hydrocortisone cream and 100% deet. Radical self reliance and all that.

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      • Ze Baron says:

        “I hope BM does something to get rid of these bugs”

        Got any ideas?

        “I went broke to come to the festival and be at the whim of the desert… ”

        We are all at the whim of the desert.

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      • Petrooshka says:

        Just so you know – the “I hope BM does something to get rid of these bugs” post is going viral on lists. I’ll leave it to you to consider why that might be.
        I’ve never seen anyone have a paralyzing reaction to all bugs, but yes to meds if that’s true. My plan is to wear a mesh burqa, though haven’t figured out how I’ll be doing my fire dance with it on yet.

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      • Needmore says:

        You spent your last $1200 to come to a recreational event? Really? I love Burning Man too, but… hmm. Wow.

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      • john says:

        “the whim of the desert” includes the environment the bugs live in. They are more a part of that desert than any human attending.

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      • Sneeze says:

        The origin of the event isn’t to pander to peoples sensitivities. Read the first timers guide please to help reassess your perspective. As a physician with allergy specialization having paralyzing disability from insect stings is unheard of. If you used your last $1200 to come to a non-life sustaining event, I’m more concerned about your safety overall moving forward in the universe. We are guests on the playa, it’s not for us to destroy nature for our comfort. Be strong glitter pony (leave the glitter at home, it’s serious moop)

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      • Nakey says:

        “I hope BM does something to get rid of these bugs…”

        Save me, Burning Man!
        May I suggest Lois Lane as your Playa name?

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      • Go Ask Alice says:

        “I hope BM does something about the bugs!”

        If seven maids with seven mops swept it for half a year?

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      • Puma243 says:

        You “hope the BLM does something” about the bugs? HAHAHAHAHA You don’t live in the real world dearie, the gov’t isn’t there to hold your hand!

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      • Sarah says:

        Doing something to get rid of them…hmmm I’m pretty sure that “leave no trace” extends to pesticide.

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      • Eat Your Beets says:

        He he he. I hope they do something to get rid of the bugs…

        Hoping they get rid of the bugs when camping on the playa for a week is like hoping you don’t get wet on that sailing trip around the world you’ve always dreamed about :)

        “The only thing to fear…”

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      • sp says:

        Mars, I agree with the other commenter that you should talk to your doctor so that you can go prepared in case you have an allergic reaction.
        You can start taking B-6 right now a couple of times a day. I know that helps a lot with mosquitoes, it might help with the other bugs that actually insert a hollow proboscis to drink, hopefully they do not like B-6 either.
        Take clothes that cover you up and wear socks and shoes at all times. Be sure to take a mask and goggles because if there is a windstorm there will be dead bugs flying everywhere.
        I hope that you have a great time. I am sorry everyone is being so mean to you. Don’t let a few jerks discourage you. If you are well prepared

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    • linda voorhees says:

      Learn how to take care of yourself under all conditions and then do it. As to spending your last $1,200….money comes and goes. If you have enough to meet your needs, you are wealthy. The Burning Man experience will stay with you forever and possibly change your life in ways $1,200 could not. “Nay sayers” probably wouldn’t nay if you were spending it on tuition to a university. Whether or not your money is well spent depends on what you get out of it (just like at a university) and what you get out of it depends on the attitude you approach it with. Have fun, be safe and remember, normal is just a setting on your dryer. Enjoy!

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    • Nacho Beotch says:

      I just read a report in the New England Journal of Medicine that the spiders currently found on the playa are the type that lay their eggs inside the skin of their hosts (often human hosts). The incubation period is very short, likely resulting in a hatch through a pustule in the host’s skin. The resultant release of up to a thousand young offspring will provide quick physical relief from the wound site, however the risk of infection is still of great concern.

      The article goes on to say that in almost every documented case, the host is female. The most potent antidote is….get this…ingesting human sperm! Heaven help the fairer sex.

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    • OlivePicasso says:

      Perhaps the bugs are being pushed East from all the fires in the Western states? The Jetstream would make that an easier flight as well.

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    • Stefan says:

      Buy some Permethrim in a spray can. Never spray this directly on your skin. It’s toxic to fish and cats. Apply per the labeling on the can. Spray on clothing, tents, tent doorways, basically anything you want to create an invisible barrier around. Once the Permethrim dries, you can wear the clothing. It’s the single best application I’ve used for a broad protection. Then add DEET and you’re good to go. Just my experience.

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  • KJC says:

    Hey John, just and FYI: With such high resolution photos you might want to blur out the laminate barcodes. The first picture in the article contains a nice clear shot of an active sku that would be very easy to replicate.

    Great article, as always. Can’t wait to be out there!

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  • Eli says:

    I’ve met so many other SAIC alums at Burning Man and it always makes me excited to meet someone else who went through the grind of that awesome and exhausting school.

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  • shine says:

    Perfect! This is mother natures answer to all the rich f8cks who have brought the default world to BM and have changed it from an alternative to mainstream. They’ll need to hire extra sherpas to follow them with a fly swatter :D

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    • Burner Hater says:

      No, this is nature’s way of telling you burners that nature hates you all. Every year you people come and wreck the ecosystem, kill some locals because all 70K of you can’t wait in a single lane road and now you will mass poison the area… how about just staying away?

      Report comment

  • Trashy says:

    Fear not. We are bringing a really really big bug extinguisher – aka – Fire Tetris.

    [Bugs + Fire Tetris = Protein]

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  • marrvelous says:

    Would be nice to know precisely what kind of bugs these are. Then we can learn how long their lifespan is, and where/how they breed.

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  • Crackass says:

    Time for Monsanto Camp

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  • roissy says:

    If you kill a bug, is it considered MOOP???

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  • roissy says:

    Great, wait until the California Dept of Agriculture hears about this, forget about the 300 mile wall project, the State will do it for them….

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  • MetaKim says:

    Doesn’t the BLM have biologists? Can’t they identify these critters and help us figure out what we need to bring? I’d happily donate some ChocoTacos to get that information.

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    • Creature says:

      I’m an entomologist :-) so the second photo looks like iridomymax winged ants. They are male drones that hatch and come out from the nest to mate for a day or two after rain and then die.

      I need a closer picture of the white ones on the carpet to identify what those are. I will happily ID others too if close up photos can be posted.

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      • Creature says:

        Found more pictures. The big green ones are hemiptera “true bugs” wick includes stinkbugs, leaf hoppers, and aphids. I think the green ones are sting bugs (don’t bite, make unpleasant smell when disturbed). I think the white are hoppers and then the second pic here was ants (also both totally harmless).

        They all seem to be swarming to mate. Not much you can do but they shouldn’t bother anyone, other then clustering on surfaces or accidentally getting blown into areas by the wind. They may be done swarming in a week or two.

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      • Creature says:

        Some useful pics/thoughts/comments towards the end here https://www.reddit.com/r/BurningMan/comments/3hcchi/bugs/

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      • turbo says:

        I searched for iridomyrmex winged ants and they look pretty different from these photos. Can you link to a pic that looks like these guys?

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      • Doc says:

        These look like flying termites to me. Google it and you’ll see they do not have segmented bodies, and the head does look about the same, as do the antennae and wings. Wood, termites, who’d have thunk it? I’m not sure what the white ones are, however maybe termites in a different stage?

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  • Rio says:

    Now the rumor is that scorpions are infesting the Playa too. Any truth to thay one.?

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  • squachek says:

    I’ll bet they were in one of the mattresses that Gypsy Flower Power left last year.

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  • Trance says:

    DPW is no stranger to insects, most of them have crabs.

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  • Skeptic says:

    What *I* want to know is HOW the FUCK did the bugs get in so damn early? Where did they get their tickets? What kind of clown-car did they arrive in? How long did they wait in Will Call? WHO GREETED THESE LIL MOFOs???

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  • Krista says:

    Whoever these bugs are they are probably not used to 70,000 Blinky lighted generator running
    fire burning people. I have a feeling we will win that one.

    Report comment

  • Michelle says:

    radical inclusion :)

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  • Julie says:

    If an insect bites my breast without consent, is that sexual assault?

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  • Steve Barney says:

    I have some good experience using a mix of essential oils all natural non DEET to be effective at taming all kinds of gnats, mosquitos, biting bugs etc. There are commercial types of this but I make my own.

    Cedar Oil 30%
    Citronella Oil 30%
    Lemongrass Oil 15%
    Peppermint OIl 15%
    Geranium Oil 10%

    All of these Essential Oils can be picked up at Holistic Health / Natural Food Stores or wholesale via the web at libertynatural.com , This mix does have a strong smell, that I like but some may have a sensitivity / dislike / allergy. To be effective in bad infestations it needs to be applied liberally and reapplied regularly. In addition to wiping it on clothing and skin it can be dispersed in a wide area with a fogger using MIneral oil or vegetable glycerin as a carrier.

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    • Gabe says:

      Mix this with vanillin, the cheap vanilla flavor, and it will be effective longer.

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    • lifeisshort says:

      a can of RAID is not Holistic?

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    • zincink says:

      Wiping this on clothes in heated areas like on the underarms of your shirt or in between your legs on the clothing that is not touching your skin. Your own body heat should warm it up without skin irritation. I put Peppermint Oil on cotton balls and put them in my pocket when gardening.

      1 teaspoon cold pressed neem oil + 1 teaspoon Dr Bronner’s Sals Suds soap in a spray bottle with water. Shake it up and spray around your perimeter. You can add an essential oil to that mix.

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  • Leroy says:

    This is awesome.. all i need to do is bring a few bug zappers & i’ll have a light show

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  • Aaronious says:

    I’m an entomologist. Reading through only a few of the comments, there is almost no good information being bantered about here. No surprise, since BM is renowned for rumors and false info spreading like creamy peanut butter.

    These look like seed bugs (Lygaeidae), but I’d have to look at them under the microscope to be sure, since there are *thousands* of different insects, and trying to ID from an internet pic is problematic.

    If they are seed bugs, they shouldn’t be biting, which makes me think there are more than one or two types of insects out there right now, but only one in the pics presented.

    If they came in on wood, again, they shouldn’t be biting people. Perhaps people are having rashes and only think they are being bitten?

    Regardless of what type of bug they are (bug, as in Heteroptera), they should die off fairly quickly given the environmental conditions.

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  • Mansoon says:

    Twice on consecutive nights 2 years ago I found translucent white spiders in my bedding. Total shock to me; not seen anything like it before or after. Both times, I killed them with a quickness, figuring they had either hitched in on a nearby vehicle or there was an unhappy, but well-prepared, campmate (and it’s not like I was gonna walk them to the nearby mountains for peaceful release). That was unhappiness, but this is making my skin creepy-crawl.

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    • jacob says:

      Ooh, ohh! There must be a bunch of different kinds of albino bugs out there. That’s crazypants! Makes sense since it’s so white. It’s kinda like in White Sands Natl. Monument where the desert crawlies you’d normally find in any desert are white/albino instead. That’s cool that you found white spiders tho. I wouldn’t want one in my bed, but to see one would be a treat (to me at least). I’ve never seen a white translucent spider before. Creepy crazy cool.

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  • Mark America says:

    Once on a stop through Gerlach in mid-August, one of the locals told me that I’d just missed the biting flies season. She said that about two weeks earlier, biting flies were everywhere in town and out on the playa; said it was awful but only a little worse than usual — the yearly occurrence is only a few weeks, ending right before the first burning man crews start to roll in.

    I bet the folks in Gerlach know what kind of bugs these are and how long they’re likely to stick around. I don’t remember the name of the woman I spoke with back then, but I think she was staff or volunteer at the community center.

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  • Stacey says:

    I’m an entomologist that works for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. If you would like to get positive identification of these insects and management strategies, please email me pictures.

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  • Beth says:

    Reading this thread and the witty responses was so entertaining it made me more excited to be in the presence of such folks than scared of silly bugs! LOVE>FEAR!!!

    Report comment

    • jacob says:

      Yea!! Totally!! I’m getting so excited too! Glad there’s only a couple of snarky comments on here about rich people (whatever that has to do with bugs :shrug:). If the bugs do stick around, it’ll just be that much more interesting to see what happens after a couple of big burns. Maybe we find that burning something once a day is the only way to keep them at bay… what’d ya say? (sorry, it slipped out)

      FIRE > BUGS

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  • AL says:

    Clearly minute pirate bugs (Anthocoridae). Yep, they bite.

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  • Needle says:

    Even if there was only ONE mosquito (or other biting bug) on the playa, it would hunt me down and go all vampire on me! :) Someone recommended this for our camp. We’re going to give it a go. Can’t wait to be HOME!!

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  • Ridge says:

    Sorry about the bugs this year. Miss Audrey blames me because I sent her with bug spray for the meltdown flies during Resto!

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  • Becca says:

    The large green and gold ones are June Bugs. Saw one here in Mountain View this weekend. They’re actually very beautiful, look like emerald and gold, though looks like playa dust messes that up a bit.


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  • Martin says:

    If another Burning Man never happens, we’re all better for it.

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  • jacob says:

    Last year we had a pretty sweet albino Praying Mantis in our camp for a few hours. Had pink eyes and everything. Hope to see more of them this year. Guess the word’s out in bug town too; BRC is the place to be.

    See ya there!

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  • M says:

    Are the bugs all over the Black Rock Desert, or just where Burning Man happens? If the latter, then I might suggest it’s time to consider moving camp if the BLM will allow. Between ’90 and ’98 the festival changed location quite a bit, there’s no traditional site within the vast expanse of the Black Rock. Some of the commenters here seem to regard the bug infestation as a chance to show their toughness and dedication, even teasing other commenters who express dismay at the desert equivalent of bedbugs. In the early years at least the whole point of being out there was the absolutely otherworldly beauty, the sense of being somewhere far beyond normal life. Not as some kind of macho ordeal. You can find plenty of those cheaper and closer to home.

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    • Newness says:

      Thank you for this balanced input. This will be my first Burn (if I don’t change my mind because of the bugs). While reading through these comments, I was surprised at how people were so rough with the woman who expressed fear about the bugs and her wondering “if BM will do anything about it.” I have fear too about the bugs and the heat. As much as I like to be strong, self reliant and hearty, I think it important for people in communities to express their fears and vulnerabilities. I was thinking of BM as a place with less judgment and harsh criticism. But I guess, like anywhere, with humans, you will find the whole gamut. And I guess I am realizing this environment is going to harsh on all levels – just like the real world. I am nervous about not being comfortable, but I am drawn to this event for some reason. More will be revealed.

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      • Sasha says:

        Hey, I feel for you and understand. I’m scared too.
        Last year was nice without the bugs and still had harsh elements to deal with. I felt proud of my preparedness and now I feel like a virgin all over again and not really feeling prepared for these bugs. I could cry right now just thinking about it,. I think that it will just make us stronger people overall and maybe they will in face be gone or a lot less intense when we get there. Hang in there! I recommend a mosquito netting around your bed. I am for sure not leaving that off my new and improved list. Good luck out there!

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      • George says:

        I was going to post this in reply to “Mars” above but noticed that others have also a similar line of thought and decided to consolidate under you guys’ thread.

        I am a Burgin and super psyched about my first experience in 10 days! While I am definitely concerned about the bug situation, I am even more surprised at the negativity, judgment and lack of care that people on this post are expressing.

        I might be mistaken, but I thought BM was an environment of radical inclusion, self-expression and genuine care for one another. If a fellow Burner is worried about her allergies or the money she’s spent to enjoy a transformational, bite-free experience, then is it right for the “community” be harsh enough to diminish her opinions so blatantly?! Being an original Burner doesn’t give you the right of arrogance.

        Maybe it’s the effect of psychedelics that makes everyone on the playa so lovey-dovey, because I’m definitely not seeing it here. I hope to be proved wrong.

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      • Baby daniel says:

        “when it comes to stating the obvious, neither praise or blame is due”…..if you want a place where everything is perfect, go to disneyland! I happen to like bugs a lot and this bitch talking about how they need to “do something about the bugs” makes me feel that she wants some harm to come to my bug buddies….I appreciate everyone standing up to this “bug hating bitch” because the bugs can’t stand up for themselves in this blog!

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      • TrillaVanilla says:

        I agree with you regarding how harsh people can be. Yes, Burning Man is all about ‘radical self reliance’, but it is also being in a very cool environment where people can choose to BE NICE to each other (which is something we DON’T see in the default world). It’s easy to treat each other like assholes.

        Yes, Burning Man is real life, and real life is harsh and unfair and blah, blah, blah. I go to the playa to see all of those friendly faces and open arms. However, if some people want to be dicks about other peoples’ insecurities then maybe THEY should stay home…don’t need ’em…just sayin’.

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      • MetaKim says:

        Note to the Burgins: Burning Man is really not a place full of careful speech and loving self-restraint. Quite the opposite; the culture is just as much about meaningfully pranking folks, flying in the face of conversational expectations, and giving people a superhard time as it is about love and hugs. My experience of the people who snark constantly is that they would give you the shirt off their back if you really needed it. But they will also give you a ton of shit for needing it, such that you will make sure you never get in that position ever again. This is, in many ways, a great gift.

        The freedom to NOT “be nice” is a critical part of Burning Man – it’s what happens when you have both Radical Self-Expression + Radical Inclusion. And it’s part of what you will cherish about this community, in the event you do come to love it: the freedom to be real. Fuck yer Burn! – and also, here’s wishing you the amazing experience you hope for!

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    • Baby daniel says:

      If you have ever been on the playa beyond the trash fence you will notice a drastic difference between where the even is held and the rest of the playa. where the event is held there are sandpits and bumps and the soil is in general less hardpacked. In other areas it is pristine…moving the event will fuck up even more of the playa than has been fucked up already FYI!

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    • AbdulFedallahPresley says:

      Nosetaters to one and all.

      Burning Man is accursed. All know this, even the Burginal, even within their inmost hearts do they know.

      As it is written,

      “In the Time of the Billion Airs, the Playa shall rise up against them all. With Plagues of Dust, and Wind, with Plagues of Bugs and Mud, shall it arise to persecute them.

      “And the Plagues shall follow the City to the Ends of the Playa.”

      MOOP thee well. Nosetaters to all.
      -Abdul Fedallah Presley

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  • Veneziano says:

    Looks like pentatomidae family – especially habit of collecting under wood

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  • Andressa says:

    Hello everyone! About the bugs, have you tried repellent to see if keeps them away? Just wondering how to prepare for the bugs. Those thinking Burning Man will be able to kill them all… don’t be that innocent, it’s an open space and it’s nature. They might have a short life and die soon but there is a good amount of food coming to meet them in the desert (us and our sullies) so they may be with us all the time. Bee keeper suit, maybe?

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  • bill tomlinson says:

    Where will we be able to check for updates for the bug problem? On this blog?

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  • Snacks says:

    Does anybody on here have a crop dusting connection? (Not the fart kind)

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  • Kim says:

    triatomines/Kissing bugs=Chagas disease. Better find some good source of protection or exterminate before event.

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  • Jenna says:

    “Based on photos floating around social media, there are three types of critters making appearances in Black Rock City, jokingly referred to as “Bug Rock City” by some Burners talking about the infestation on social media.
    False blister beetles, which are largely associated with rotting wood; false chinch bugs, which sometimes can release a stinkbug-like odor; and Say’s stink bugs, also known as green stink bugs are the three types of bugs that Knight has informally identified based on images.
    All three bugs informally identified are attracted to light, Knight said. In fact, entomologists use lights to capture such bugs, and amber-hued lights are better in the interest of detracting them, Knight said.
    None of the bugs has identified so far are bloodsuckers, which should be a consolation to Burners, although no official identifications have been made as of yet.
    Images also have circulated of bats, which officials from the Department of Wildlife said would not be surprising since bats would likely be attracted to the large number of insects and bugs at the location.”

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  • Oddly Wise says:

    You will need:
    1 glowstick
    1 Q-tip
    1 Disposable cup
    1 Box-cutter

    – Break and shake glowstick
    – Use boxcutter to pierce glowstick
    – Pour glowstick fluid into cup
    – Use Q-tip to gently dab a drop of glowstick fluid onto the backs of several bugs

    Viola! Lightning bugs!

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  • Scorto says:

    The bugs are hallucigenic! Like flying desert magic mushrooms for your pleasure. Eat em up.

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  • Kathy Byram says:

    Here is your culprit. Look at the “v” shaped wing on top of the full body wing. These are cinch bugs with wings in your photo on your page here. Google images.


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  • Wild jamaican says:

    Can you say naked and afraid!

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  • Garret says:

    As an artist I would see the bugs as a creative challenge and would statr looking for materials and resources to help everyone invent solutions. Bolts of bug netting and bamboo, wire and other such materials everyone could use. Its not a curse or a blessing. It’s a challenge.

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  • Maggie says:

    I should be doing a lot of other things right now but got swept up in this dilemma of the “bugs” at Burning Man…I have heard of Burning Man but do not know what it is or why it started…could someone give me some background??, Please…reading all the comments is thoroughly entertaining and the humor is great…the criticism is not that bad and some sound like the Catholic Worker people I knew back in my protest days in Iowa…there still are hippie people out there but I was having babies during the early years so was middle age when I got to be an activist…the desert can be really neat but Hot is not my thing, or should I say my 70 yr old body couldn’t do it now…have fun you guys…wish I could see it all…stay safe everyone…:)

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  • motor says:

    This bug thing is a rumor perpetrated by people that were not able to get tickets or vehicle passes, to scare people away, flooding the market with tickets that can be scooped up for cheap.

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  • Okanaganopolis says:

    BRC Organizers NOTE: if the bug “source” is conceivably from piled wood, it could be a hatch of a woodborne bug. BM Woodpiles and Lumber inventories, if stored over the year in Gerlach, etc.., would be a great place for them to have originated. If that’s their origin, they’ll not do well in the “real environment” of the Playa i suspect, but caution the organizers around their lumber acquisition and storage protocols going forward. Cheers! I’ll see you at the Playa. I’m in the lumber business and can look help look further into that possibility if asked.

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  • Lily Berkeley says:

    No need to bring so much food now!!! See following article:

    If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em!

    Marmorated stinkbugs owe their odor to a combination of compounds called trans 2 octenal and trans 2 decenal. Entomologist Michael Raupp noted in the Washington Post that the latter of these compounds is also found in cilantro.
    Perhaps this hints at another possible solution to the stinkbug infestation: We could try eating our way out. (See “The Bug Chef Shares How to Eat Grasshoppers, Ants, and Spiders in Style.”)
    In fact, many cultures have recipes for stinkbugs. The compounds that serve the insects as a chemical weapon against predators can be a spicy addition to numerous dishes. They may even be a good source of dietary iodine.
    Who knew you could fight invasive species just by making some stinkbug tacos?

    Follow Jason Bittel on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • Clutch Cargo says:

    My concern is post Burningman. 70,000 campers will be returning home, gear and clothing infested with these bugs. Not knowing what the lifespan of these creatures prompt the question, should we be concerned and if so, what are the ramifications of bringing these bugs back to a larger population?

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  • Mark says:

    I am writing from Minnesota and wanted to say how lucky you are to be there, but the main reason is to help you with your Nysius problem.
    I have personally dealt with them and you can go about it two ways.
    (1) You can get some Malathion, it’s over the counter but it is a total kill on all insects and there are too many good insects to even think about that! The cost would also be astronomical.
    (2) Get some lemon dish soap, get a hose attachment, the kind that you would put dry plant food in so it mixes with the water as you spray. Fill the attachment with 2 ounces of lemon dish soap. As you spray and you don’t need to do a hard flow of water, the Nysius will start to go away. Now I know you have a huge area but the area you spray will be bug free for 18 hours. You can use one bottle of the lemon dish soap to cover an area of 100′ by 50′
    If you have any question feel free to email me, mark@mngardens.com and I can give you my phone.
    This really is an easy fix, environmentally friendly, also you the cheap lemon dish soap.

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  • Arden Collier says:

    The biting bugs currently plaguing the Black Rock Desert are likely False Chinch Bugs, or Nysius raphanus.

    What are False Chinch Bugs?
    – They are flying insects, grayish-brown, slender, about 1/8 to 1/6 inch long.
    – They feed on the juices of mustard plants and other weeds through a proboscis.

    Do they bite?
    – They can “bite” but it’s not normal. My theory: they may be so desperate for fluids that they’re resorting to biting people. That would also explain it if they’re going for the eyes or mouth.

    What do we do?
    – GOOD NEWS! Usually the mass migration lasts only one week at most.
    – Where possible, keep openings to structures closed or screened, esp. in the cooler hours, AM and PM, when they become active.
    – You can suppress them by spraying them down with water where they congregate.
    – Insecticides may help, but for only for short periods, like <1 day; fresh bugs show up frequently.

    Where did they come from, and why so many?
    – They migrate in large groups when their weedy food sources dry out.
    – They could have come from many miles away: adults can move significant distances.
    – Their populations can explode when there has been a cool spring [and May was unusually cold in NoCal, just ask my tomatoes].

    From the UC Davis website and Deseret News .

    [Disclaimer: The green bugs that have been mentioned are completely different and are not covered here.]

    Hope this helps. Best of luck!

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  • Andy Jones says:

    I know bugs are high protean so roast some up and bring a little less food this year ! If a bug or two keeps you from going this year,
    your not a real Burner are you ?

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  • Thor says:

    Unfortunately, few on this chain understand the gravity of the situation. I have a PhD in Entomology from Nubagger University in Lichtenstein, and have seen firsthand the problems associated with these types of desert insects. Though little known, several hundred members from a small tribe in South Namibia became severely ill several years ago from newly born breeding bugs. These types of pests hatch in a hormonal state and quickly go about attempting to penetrate any exposed orifice.

    Best to stay away from the playa this year.

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  • loupiote says:

    “I hope BM does something to get rid of these bugs…”

    At the Kumbh Mela festival in India (100 Millions participants!), they spray copious amount of DDT to kill all bugs – which could otherwise cause deadly epidemics.

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  • Mitchell says:

    This is despicably cruel, and if you’re going to burning man, or have ever been, then stand up and be a proponent of your own ecology and Mother Earths, and write the organizers to deal with the bugs in an ecological way, so as not to disrupt natures plans.

    Killing is not the answer – trust me, you don’t want that bad karma. To voice your support for mindful resolution to the bug issue, and not “nuke the city” tactics as promoted by venue organizers

    Contact 911@burningman.com – or – https://twitter.com/burningman – or – https://www.facebook.com/BurningMan

    Listen to what the earth is saying – don’t bury your head and let your ego divide you from your own relation. This is a sign – Read It!

    Concerned Citizen,

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  • Muffin says:

    soooooooo….. what happens when all the 65,000+ people leave the playa and take the insect infestation with them to all points around the globe?

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  • Sparkle C lyde says:

    I love a good finger wagging. Burners are such pros. No mercy.

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  • Sarah Meyer says:

    So cool reading it

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