Plecia nearctica, aka the Love Bug

The love bug peppered look of Florida in April

There back! One of the most dreaded nuisances ever invented by mother nature…The Love Bug. For those who have not had the “pleasure” of meeting a love bug, they are small 1/4 inch long bugs (actually flies) which look like a science experiment gone wrong. It’s not their black bodies with bright red thoraxes which makes them unique, it’s that you will almost always find them “butted up” rear end to rear end “flying united”, as we like to say in Florida, making them look like the pushmi-pullyu of the insect world.

We have a real hate-hate relationship with love bugs here in Florida. Sure they do not bite, unlike a plethora of other nasties here in Florida, and their larvae are supposedly beneficial in the breakdown of dead plant material, but they are major nuisances as they tend to swarm over our roadways splattering their egg-laden internal juices over every square inch of a vehicles front end. They smash onto your vehicle in such copious numbers that they not only make it difficult to see out your windshield, but can also clog radiators making your vehicle overheat. The annoyance is not exclusive to just motorists, these dreaded bugs also tend to swarm over anything light in color and have a general tendency to always get into places you do not expect them to.

To make matters worse, those juices plastered all over your car will eat away the paint and chrome if you do not wash them off within a day, as their remains become very acidic. Scrubbing them off is a ritual all Floridan’s hate as the heat fuses them to your cars finish. There are many tricks and specialized products to remove them, but I have found that using a wet fabric softener sheet, like bounce, takes them off with little effort. A couple of helpful tips I’ve heard and used is to give your car a really good coat of wax before the love bug season starts (it really helps in the removal and provides another layer of protection) and to put a fine layer of baby oil on your paint, also making removal easier. But the biggest tip is to avoid high speed driving (over 50mph) during the bugs peak hours of activity.

Curiously these bugs have no real natural predator, well with the exception of all the vehicles on the highway, as most insectivores find them acidic and displeasing to the palette. So we just have to grin and bear it….well don’t grin too big as you may get an unexpected tasty treat…like I said, they can get anywhere. Luckily they are only around two times (two times too many if you ask any Floridian) a year, in May and September, and can be somewhat avoided if you don’t travel in the mid morning and the mid to late afternoon.

If it’s not freaky enough to see swarms of sex-crazed bugs flying in tandem on your next Florida vacation, consider this fact: The male dies after mating. And the female keeps dragging that dead man’s body around with her, until she lays her eggs and dies. Talk about letting a relationship weigh you down!

Today’s bug filled ride was a little shorter than my norm, as a never ending swarm of bugs locked in heated courtship came swirling at my face like little guided missles. Breathe in at the wrong time and it’s bon appetite love bug!

Route: Treeline
Activity: Cycle
Started: Apr 25, 2011 9:06:59 AM
Ride Time: 1:19:52
Stopped Time: 24:51
Distance: 22.74 miles
Average Speed: 17.08 miles/h
Fastest Speed: 22.29 miles/h
Ascent: 69 feet
Descent: 141 feet
Calories: 1361
Official: No

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