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Love is in the air, on windshields

Having too much love does really happen.

Area residents are getting more than their share of it with the onslaught of love bugs flitting around the area.

The swarms of black-winged, slow-flying, orange-bodied flies (as the county extension office refers to them) are making vehicle owners miserable as they become plastered parts of vehicles’ hoods and grills.

The pesky critters can be much more than a mere nuisance – they can cause real damage to your vehicle if you aren’t prompt in removing them, county extension agent Rusty Parrish said.

&uot;It’s important to remove them from your vehicle as soon as possible because they will ruin your paint job,&uot; Parrish said. &uot;Getting a protective covering for your grill and hood is a good idea.

He said there also is the possibility that a vehicle can pick up so many of the bugs that it will stop up the radiator.

Most love bugs experts say that chemical control of love bugs is ineffective and not recommended.

&uot;You can use patio foggers for temporary relief, but most people who are cooking out or entertaining don’t want the foggers going,&uot; Parrish said.

Love bug infestations are a yearly occurrence, unless a major change in the weather occurs, he said.

&uot;I used to think that cold weather was good for pest infestations, but entomologists have told me that it depends on the stage of the insects life cycle that the cold weather occurs for it is to have an affect on the population,&uot; he said. &uot;If they are in an egg stage in the soil or plant matter, they are protected. That’s not necessarily the answer.&uot;

In Florida, love bugs usually have two generations per year, but in our area, weather occurs for it is to have an affect on the population,&uot; he said. &uot;If they are in an egg stage in the soil or plant matter, they are protected. That’s not necessarily the answer.&uot;

In Florida, love bugs usually have two generations per year, but in our area, Parrish said, probably due to the colder weather, we usually have one generation.

The recent outbreak can be contributed to our ongoing wet weather. The love bug larvae’s’ development requires moisture and warm temperatures, of which we have had an abundance lately.

Female love bugs lay 100 to 350 eggs, which they deposit beneath plant material. The larvae feed on the decaying matter and live on the soil’s surface just beneath mulch and similar material.

The larvae turn into pupae in about 7 to 10 days.

These bugs are harmless and do not sting or bite, and feed on plant nectar of plants such as sweet clover, goldenrod and Brazilian pepper.

Their claim to fame is being a nuisance to motorists. Traveling at night reduces contact with the insects; love bugs reach their peak activity at 10:00 a.m. and rest from dusk through the night.

&uot;The other problem with the bugs is their presence on patios and porches, flying into houses as doors open,&uot; Parrish said. &uot;Once again, there isn’t a whole lot you can do other than keep your doors closed as much as possible.&uot;

Believe it or not, the insects do have a positive effect on the environment; they aren’t a complete waste of time.

County extension brochures point out that the bugs help return nutrients to the soil as they feed on decaying plant matter during their larval stage.