published: Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Love bugs beginning to show up in area again
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING -- It's that time again. Reports are filtering in with the initial sightings of a familiar friend - the Plecia nearctica. It's known as the honeymoon bug, the kissing bug or the two-headed bug.
But around here, they are called love bugs, despite the fact people hate 'em.
The first of two semi-annual swarms of the insects appears to be getting started throughout the Heartland.
A second visit will come in the fall - that generally is sometime in August or September.
Reports of a wetter and warmer April this year could mean both an earlier and larger accumulation of the bugs that end up nearly everywhere.
Fortunately they do not bite. However, they do end up splattered on cars and trucks in alarming numbers - especially in more rural area.
The process for creating love bug habitat is a simple one. As the rain feeds the grass, it grows and it is cut. The love bug population then booms. That's because the love bug young feed on grass clippings. More rain, in turn, means not only more grass but wetter grass, which is perfect for love bug reproduction.
Roadway medians and easements make for a perfect breeding ground. Additionally, experts say, the black bugs with the little red spots are drawn to automobile exhaust fumes irradiated by the sun's light, therefore making prime targets for any kind of vehicle.
Peak hours for love bug activity usually runs between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., according to the University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Department's Website.
Motorists long have known the smashed bugs on their cars can cause damage to paint if they are allowed to remain and bake under the hot Florida sun.
When they smash onto a vehicle, love bugs leave behind an acid that hardens like glue within just minutes. Given a few days, that acid can burn through to the white undercoat, leaving speckles and pock marks to scar a car's surface. Their remnants are difficult to remove even with soap and water and a lot of muscle.
If dense enough, the love bugs' squashed remains can even block air flow to engine radiators and lead to overheated engines on long road trips. Cleaning that mess off a car's grill can be difficult.
Car detailing experts warn against using abrasive cleaners or Brillo-type scrubbers. Instead, soap -- even fabric softener -- and water and sponges are recommended. One detailer says wet dryer sheets work well.
Although there is an urban folk myth about the bugs being created as part of University of Florida experiment, the bugs are a Central American species, probably transported to Texas in the soil that ships once used for ballast. And like fire ants, which were imported the same way, they worked their way around the gulf to Florida.
The biggest blessing is that the annual infestations only last a few weeks.
love bugs (by: Stu Goldberg - 5/14/2013)
Do you have an update as to the severity of love bugs on Aligator Alley in southern Florida?
Again? (by: Blindman~ - 5/8/2013)
People hate love bugs, ha ha... thanks for the warning their back. This is big news!
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