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Grease Up for Love Bug Season

For most of the year, love bugs live as larvae on the surface of soil or on decaying leaves or grass---most people don’t even know they’re there. But when the weather gets warm, you can’t help but notice swarms of them, flying in pairs.

"Well, they're attached, because the male doesn't want to let the female go and find another male," says Norman Leppla, professor of entomology at the University of Florida. The female, he explains, just wants to find a place to lay her eggs. But the male? "He's just along for the ride so that no other male comes along and displaces his paternity… The females come out from the surface of the ground. And the males are waiting. And the successful male is able to grab the female and fly off with her. And if he doesn't hang on, another male will come along and mate with her. That's how their system works."

Love bugs don’t spread disease, and they don’t bite, says Leppla. Basically, they’re just a nuisance. Especially to your car or truck. Andrew Fillmore knows all about the pesky flies. He works at a neighborhood car wash.

"You will have to grease your car down with either cooking oil or Vaseline, before getting on the highway," he explains.

Fillmore says any cooking oil will work, and that if you don’t grease your car down...

"They’re staying in the paint and then don't come off. But if you grease it down before you get on the highway, you can just ride and then whenever you want your car washed everything will come right on off."

Leppla also recommends using a dryer sheet -- first dry, and then wet--to gently remove the bugs from your vehicle. Other folks say frequent washing and a good wax can help, too.

But besides forays into unconventional vehicle maintenance, Leppla says love bugs do hold a lesson for us.

"They're a part of nature. That mating behavior that I told you about, people can watch that. They do it basically twice a day, in the morning and in the evening... I think just observe nature and appreciate nature."

Learn more about love bugs.

Copyright 2021 WGCU

Valerie Vande Panne