The Love Bug Epidemic
Living in Florida, we are blessed with many things…lots of sunny days, beautiful foliage that stays lush and green year-round, incomparable beaches, and friendly people. And then…there are the love bugs. We do not mention these on our list of Florida blessings. Usually, that’s the way it goes with pests.
Love bugs aren’t bad to look at necessarily. They are little black and red bugs, neither particularly ugly nor beautiful. They don’t bite or sting, so they aren’t actually harmful to us. They eat dead, decaying vegetation which essentially helps keep our ecosystem tidy which is nice since we are hard-pressed to find many positive things to say about the little critters.
Love bugs have a scientific name which is not “ruinous automobilus” as it might seem. No, it is plecia nearctica. The origin of these bugs has become somewhat of an “urban legend” or maybe a “suburban legend” to be more accurate. If you have lived in Florida for any length of time you have probably heard the story that these insects were a genetic experiment at the University of Florida, possibly to cut down on the mosquito population, but it was a failed experiment leading to a population of unnecessary and unhelpful bugs here in Florida. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is a false story. We know you are disappointed. It was a good one, but not a true one.
Love bugs actually originate from Central America. At some point, believed to be in the 1920s, they hopped aboard a ship and made their way to Louisiana migrating to Florida in 1947. This is probably true as that is how many species of animals end up in areas they were not native. Philip Koehler, an endowed professor at University of Florida’s entomology department joked, “If we created them, they would be orange and blue.” Good one, professor! We believe you!
Regardless of how they arrived, they seem to love it here. Their population has decreased over the years with no sadness on the part of Florida residents! They have a very short lifespan of only a few days. During that time, they “join” with a mate who stays attached so that no other male can reproduce with that particular female. During these few days of life, they may fly about peacefully or they may collide with your car as they seem destined to do. Herein, lies the problem.
Love bug carcasses on your vehicle aren’t just annoying. They can actually be damaging. Even though it is a nasty job, it is important to get the dead love bugs and their larvae off your vehicle as quickly as possible. We all know that they seem to be super-glued on there! It is said that damp dryer sheets work well. Anything is worth a try! Their larvae and insides turn more acidic over time which can actually eat through your clear coat or paint on your car. Cleaning them off your car is not a fun job, but it’s necessary.
While cleaning the love bugs off your car, you might be thinking that now is a good time to get your car’s windows tinted. You are so right! It’s the perfect time. At Solar Solutions, we tint the windows of vehicles, commercial buildings, and homes. We wish our tint was somehow a love bug repellent, but nobody has developed that yet. We DO offer Solar Gard though, which is a water repellent and comes in quite handy here in Florida. If you are in the Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Melbourne, or Palm Bay areas, please give us a call today for a free estimate on your window tinting needs!