It's cool though, the hippies and tech millionaires might nuke them.

This year at Burning Man, there are many potential threats to a good time: heat stroke, a questionable batch of bathtub drugs or a rogue strain of regional norovirus. But, without question, none of those fun-killers to the horror that's plaguing Burning Man right now: the place is teeming with a blood-thirsty insect plague of biblical proportions.

The scorched playa of the Black Rock Desert isn’t a lifeless wasteland. The dry lake bed receives enough rain annually to host a vast ecosystem. Because of unseasonably wet weather, the nearby grasses are unusually lush resulting in more bugs than usual.

As stated quite animatedly, on the official Burning Man blog: “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.”

Sounds like someone got an early batch of the bad acid.

The problem is serious enough that Nevada’s Department of Agriculture sending in experts to the remote site to collect samples. Some of the pests have already been identified.
Nysius or seed bugs, one of the main culprits, normally feast primarily on the moisture in various grasses. When the scorching desert heat dries everything out, the bugs often migrate en masse looking for new food sources. Occasionally they seek moisture by forcing their proboscis into human skin. A proboscis is essentially a long, hollow tongue. Think flesh-straw.

Entomologist Karl Magnacca believes there are actually two other species at play. They also like to shove their flesh-straws into people’s skin (It’s like a big massive bug bro-down and the humans are the hooch). Not to worry though, according to the Sonoran Naturalist Field Guide, the seed bugs “soon move on and do not persist… blood is not their preferred meal.” We’re just sort of that open bag of Pizzeria-style Combos closest to the couch.

Reports of rashes and welts associated with the bugs may not be just from the blood-sucking. Expert Entomologist Douglas Yanega stated that, “There’s a huge bloom of invasive mustard plants in California that may have been feeding the bugs. So their bodies are full of mustard oil.” The seed oil is an irritant to humans. “These bugs are coming off the invasive mustards, and a bit of the problem is likely to be that people are crushing the bugs and releasing mustard oils onto their skin.”

These mustard plants are also common around the desert near the festival, according to the Daily News. None of this bodes well for quelling the problem anytime soon.

Entomologist Jeff Knight believes Burning Man’s massive fluorescent lighting towers are to blame for attracting the massive insect populations.

The problem has escalated to the point that event organizers are considering ‘nuking’ the city, whatever that means, although it would add a nice spin on Burning Man’s core idea of ‘no trace.'

There’s still over a week before the festival kicks off. Before then the bugs might die-off, get nuked by hippies or in general just become bored with pumping out gallon-after-gallon of shitty human blood and go for the good stuff elsewhere.