The totally non-metaphorical plague of biting green bugs that descended on the Black Rock Desert last week — bringing with it a rash of negative press — has mostly disappeared. Those pests, the Burning Man blog proudly reports, couldn't survive the harsh desert conditions of the playa!
"Keep calm and burn on" is the basic message from photographer and blogger John Curley, who was super zen about this whole thing even when everybody was losing their cool.
"Yes," Curley confides, "it was true... unknown bugs of mysterious origin showed up by the thousands or millions in Black Rock City over the past week." Those, writes Gizmodo, were likely Nysius, or seed bugs, who "release a terrible smell" and poke their probiscises into people’s skin.
But not to worry, Burner class of 2015. It's so awful on the playa that even bugs can't survive. "[The] heat and the dryness have taken their toll. Larger insects came along, too, and there were plenty of smaller bugs for them to eat." Also, birds ate them, but fearing the next batch of headlines, Curley notes that they "were not massing in Hitchcock-ian numbers." The birds, like the bugs, are just part of the natural process. "The smaller get eaten by the larger. The heat ended the infestation as quickly as it appeared, and the inches-high mounds were blown away by the desert wind."
However, Curley admits that the bugs could return and haven't even dissipated completely. "Ok, not every last stinking one of them [is gone], but pretty much," he quips of the literally smelly insects. "The swarms have dried up and blown away. People are working unmolested. Nature has run its course."
It should be noted that unusual swarms of seed bugs and others are still being recorded in the nearby eastern Sierras, so who knows what might be left this insect season.
By the by, if the bugs do return and your destination is the Black Rock Desert, Wired has some advice on how to combat them. No, those natural bug-blockers will probably just get you eaten — try a vacuum cleaner?
On another note, Curley's original blog post was at the center of the real feeding frenzy, devoured by The Media as it was. In fact, you know what? Curley has a theory about the real plague on Burning Man. It's us, you guys.
Yep, Curley hated being identified by the likes of NBC as a "Burning Man organizer" so much that he bragged about it in his blog post. In fact, he's just a Burner blogger who proudly tells us that used to be a "lost soul" in the newspaper business. He seems to have been laid off by the Chronicle in 2007, as writes photographer Thomas Hawk, and now he seems much more at peace, citing his festival involvement and life on a houseboat in Alameda.
"We were soooooo happy not to be a part of the 24-hour news cycle, where the identical facts are hashed and rehashed and then regurgitated again," writes Curley with distinct sympathy. "We feel sorry for the lost souls who have to write and rewrite the sketchiest outlines of a story into headlines they hope will grab an eyeball or two."
Welp. Sorry to be a green bug in your ointment, Mr. Curley!