Thursday, August 17, 2017

Love Bug Season is coming!

If you live here all year in Florida, you're aware of Love Bug Season. It lasts roughly three to five weeks twice each year in May and September and has nothing to do with those little round Volkswagens. You're most likely to encounter these miniscule lovers smashing into your windshield and your car paint.

Love bugs are tiny flying insects related to flies and gnats. They don't bite and they don't carry disease. They're mostly a nuisance, but as larvae they also clean up dead vegetation.

If you're fascinated by bugs, their official name is Plecia nearctica Hardy. They're called love bugs because the adults mate and then fly around hooked together end to end for up to twelve hours. Well, that is unless and until they plaster themselves to your car's paint or windshield while you were happily driving down the highway, minding your own business.

Love bugs tend to swarm over the interstate or highways when they emerge, apparently attracted to a chemical in engine exhaust and the heat from the road. Their only function as an adult is to mate and lay eggs so the next generation can do the same thing. Rough job. The adults only live about four days or so, according to the University of Florida entomology department's online information. If you want more, go here:

Love bug mating flights:
--Occur in spring during April and May and again in fall in late August into September.      No one will have to tell you it's love bug season. Believe me, you'll know.
--Cover 25% of Florida's land area and can extend several miles into the Gulf of Mexico
--Can reach altitudes of 1500 feet
--Occur between 10 am and 4 pm as long as the temperature is above 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

So basically, they're out when you are. They fly around mating, have no shame whatsoever, and apparently do not require any kind of privacy. They're so busy doing what they're doing in swarms that they just hang around and wait for someone to run into them.

Okay, now that you've got love bug guts all over your bumper, hood, headlights, and windshield, not to mention the backs of your rear-view mirrors, how do you get them off? First of all, you'll want to get them off right away. Carry some extra windshield washer fluid in your car - you're going to need it. Rain-X windshield washer sprayed on the windshield beforehand does seem to keep them from sticking as bad and it does help to get it off. Some have said an extra coat of wax on your car can help protect your clear-coat. If you can get to it right away, some warm soapy water and a rag will take care of the stuff on your paint.

If you can't get to it right away, God help you. I've always heard their innards can eat paint. I'm not sure if that's true, but here are some helpful ideas to get them off. Wet the area well so the bugs are moistened and some of it may just fall off when it's saturated. Then go for the bug and tar remover stuff and spray it on, let it sit for about half an hour, spray again and rub lightly with a soft-scrubbing sponge. Or try a wet dryer sheet - but again, don't rub hard. It'll take several applications and rubbings to get it off, no matter what you use. You have to be patient, or you'll scratch your paint.

The only other option is to stay home while this is going on. Usually not an option. Or get someone else to drive and afterward pretend like you don't know anything about how to get the stuff off the car, telling them how bad you feel for them. Probably not going to work more than once.

The best option is to be ready. Keep an extra gallon of windshield cleaner in your trunk. Seriously, I know someone who went through a whole gallon of the stuff on a two hour drive, just trying to keep his windshield clean enough to see the road. Keep some bug remover and several rags as well. You do not want to be at a rest stop trying to get that stuff off with those scratchy brown paper towels and water from the restroom.

Just remember, love bug season doesn't last forever. It just seems like it.

PS: My father, Reverend William Leslie Phillips, Junior, would have been 90 today. Happy birthday, Dad. I think of you every single day.

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