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Love bugs: We love to hate them

May 22, 2013
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

In October and May, they come out to play. Love bugs, that is, in central Florida, along highways. There isn't much to love about love bugs. Their common name is indicative of their locked embrace, rather than their popularity with humans. Our problem with them is that they get smashed against our grills and windshields, and the acid in their guts eats away at the paint on our cars. Cleaning them is difficult, but there are some tips to help with cleaning or even avoiding them.

If you have never experienced driving through them, you're either lucky, or you've never driven in central Florida in May or October, when they swarm. They get so thick some years; you can't hear your radio for the noise they make as they splat against your car. Imagine a tall cow urinating on a tin roof. Each pair of bugs carries a small tube of super-glue, and when they make their suicide pact, they coat each others' bellies with the stuff, and then hit your windshield and stick. If you let them pile up, eventually you can't see where you're going. Running the wipers at that point will spread the smear even more, making it worse. Don't stick your head out the window to see ahead. You will learn why they don't have any natural predators. They taste bad. Ask a Harley rider.

First, understand that they congregate along heavily travelled highways because they apparently like to breath carbon monoxide, so the heavier the traffic, the more they congregate. Also understand that they go to roost for the night after sunset, so you can avoid them entirely by traveling at night if possible. If you do have to drive through them, here are some tips for dealing with it.

Before starting the trip, apply a product like Rain-ex to your windshield, if you can. Also fill your windshield washer tank with the type of fluid that includes Rain-Ex, or a similar product. It will make your windshield more slippery, and therefore easier to clean and harder for the bugs to stick to. Use an aerosol can of silicon lubricant to spray your grill and front bumper. Don't put it on the glass, however. Now when you start hitting the bugs, keep using your windshield washer to clean them off before they dry out too much, or they will get too hard to clean. Don't spare the washer fluid. Stop and buy another gallon if you run out. It's worth it because of the cleaning time it saves. You may have to ignore the irritated drivers behind you who get hit with your overspray. They were too cheap to buy the good washer fluid, so their windshields look like frosted glass.

When you reach your destination, clean off the ones that stuck as soon as you can. Baking soda will help to neutralize the acid and release the super glue that they use to stick with. If you can't find baking soda, any strong detergent will work. You will be removing your wax job with detergent, so be sure to re-wax soon. The wax also makes it easier to clean them off.

Failure to remove their little carcasses will result in your car looking like it had measles. If you're a Harley rider, you will need to brush your teeth before you eat, or even smile at anyone.



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