Welcome to Florida lovebug season! For those of you that are new to this area, rest assured you will soon learn exactly what lovebugs are and how damaging they can be to your vehicle and your safety. First to dispel any rumors that are flying around (pun intended), love bugs are not man-made, nor were they an experiment that went awry in the University of Florida. Their Latin based name is Plecia nearctica, they are a species of fly that flutter around attached to each other. This is because that they are mating and once attached they stay that way until they find a place to nest and lay their eggs.
The average lovebug will lay from 100 to 300 eggs in the soil usually under decaying organic matter i.e. rotting leaves and grasses. Why then do they swarm by highways and major roadways? The simple answer is that many country roads have swamps on either side of them that collect water and vegetation from bush hogs that cut the grasses to keep them short. They swarm on major highways because the exhaust gasses that emanate from the exhaust systems of our vehicles when exposed to heat (black roadways) and ultra violet light (sunlight) have the same aldehyde and formaldehyde’s that decaying organic matter produce. So these flies are naturally drawn to locales in an effort to procreate and to become a major part of the environmental process of keeping the rotting organics at a reasonable level as the larvae feed on the decay that they are nested in.
How then does this affect the world of vehicles? First of all when these bugs splatter on your vehicles finishes, they get baked on and if left on the vehicle for any length of time they will etch the paint. To prevent this as much as possible you should have your vehicles waxed right before love bug season so that they will tend to “slide off “when they hit. Then it’s up to you to wash the remaining bugs off within 24 hours to protect the paint.
There are many products that are available to ease the removal of these petrified carcasses. One product that I personally use is “Bugs B Gone” manufactured by Sea Foam. Many times people will spray their vehicles with PAM or the like to prevent the bugs from sticking, but the fluorocarbons and the propellants in these products can also cause damage to your paint. There is a popular segment of people that wipe their vehicle with dryer sheets, but having never tried this I cannot recommend nor debunk this theory. Rolls Royce had sent out a notice to spray their grill work and chrome work with the original unscented Pledge as a preventive measure.
Now that we know the how’s and why’s of getting the bugs off of your vehicle let’s talk about the safety and mechanical issues that occur during this season. The sheer numbers of bugs that can accumulate on a vehicles air conditioning condenser and radiators after driving at 70 miles an hour through a swarm is more than enough to affect the efficiency of your air conditioning, do this enough times and you can seriously restrict enough air so that your vehicle will overheat. If you read the other articles you should remember that the efficiency of the cooling system is proportional to the overall health of not only your engine but the transmission also.
As so far as safety is concerned how many times have you driven down the road and saw a vehicle coming at you with their windshield full of bugs and all smeared as they just ground them in with their wiper blades. That should be enough to scare the bejesus out of you. Carry an old ice scraper with you if you are driving down these types of roads. As so far as preventive measures install a window treatment on your windshields such as Rain X or just plain old Glass Wax from the pink can.
That’s about all we can do about these little creatures. Just be glad that they only mate twice a year, and be just a little smarter than lovebugs! Until next week remember the key to keeping the cost of ownership down is PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE!!
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