Wednesday, 30 May 2007 01:00
Love BugsWritten by WGCU Newsroom
Commuters in southwest Florida are dealing with more than crowded roadways these days. The biannual love bug infestation has been added to the equation.
A thirty minute commute on I-75 leaves cars splattered with love bug guts, and carwashes are doing a brisk business. That’s because love bugs not only blur windshields but can also corrode paint. But it’s not because they’re bodies are acidic. That’s according the author of “Living with Lovebugs” and director of the integrated pest management program at the University of Florida Dr. Norm Leppla.
“they are actually neutral until they get baked onto your car and then they turn acidic and penetrate the paint – so the way to protect your car is to keep a good coat of car wax on the front of it and get those love bugs off as soon as you can…if you do that you don’t have damage to the car.”
Love bugs are an alien invasive species which made their way to Florida from Central America around 1950...their present range is all the way north to South Carolina. Leppla says he believes environmental pathogens keep their population naturally in check in their traditional range, but that those checks are not present here in Southwest Florida.
And he says there’s very little research being done into ways to control the amorous bugs bi-annual love fest.
“it’s done as a hobby or a sidelight because we’d like to help, there’s no funding for it and its not a major part of our work…7:30 we put our energy into things that are a concern to public health and to agriculture and things that will be harmful and we put a low priority on nuisances even though they can be quite a pain in the neck…”
The good news – says Leppla…the current infestation is beginning to wane. The bad news – they’ll be back like clockwork in September or October.