World Cup: Swarms of bugs take over Volgograd before England-Tunisia match

The World Cup host city of Volgograd is being invaded by bugs. Not a summer-afternoon-picnic-by-the-lake amount of bugs, but a why-is-it-dark-outside-oh-wait-those-are-swarms-of-bugs amount of bugs.

If anyone doubts that the bugs are a problem, the press who are in town to report on Monday’s match between England and Tunisia are here to show you that yes, there are lots of bugs, and yes, it’s a major issue.

It feels like that Associated Press reporter was mere seconds away from his face being completely covered by bugs. BBC reporter Natalie Pirks was able to momentarily defeat the bugs, but only by spraying an intense amount of bug repellent around her head.

The bugs got so bad that some reporters weren’t able to actually report.

That’s right: The bugs in Volgograd are so terrible that helicopters have been deployed to spray bug repellent over the stadium.

There’s a little bit of good news: the BBC spoke to a professor of etymology, who revealed that most of the bugs aren’t biters.

Entomologist professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire believes they are non-biting midges, known as chironomidae, though he thinks there could be some mosquitoes thrown into the mix as well.

“It’s a regular occurrence and just bad timing with a World Cup on”, said the insect expert Hart. “The good news is they don’t last long.”

People who go outside won’t be covered in angry red welts, which is excellent for anyone who is playing in or watching the England-Tunisia match in Volgograd. But they’ll still be a nuisance — especially for the goaltenders, who will have to stand in mostly the same spot for the entire match.

Volgograd is hosting four group matches during the World Cup, but the stadium is by the river, which means the bugs could be even worse there than in other areas — hence the helicopters spraying insecticide all over the venue. But even then, don’t be surprised if a player gets carried off by a swarm of bugs, or if that player ends up becoming their new bug king.

Helicopters have been spraying insecticide on Volgograd Arena for days to try and reduce the swarms of bugs that have been taking over the stadium and city. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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