Love bugs make their mark on Pike County

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 22, 2000

Features Editor

Sept. 21, 2000 10 PM

Love bugs are back but there’s no love lost on them.

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The little black bugs are playing havoc on area automobiles and they don’t seem to have a preference for year, make or model. The Lincoln Town Car is just as susceptible as the Escort.

It’s not a pretty sight when the love bugs make their mark on any auto and, if they aren’t removed right away, the auto will be tattooed for life.

Raynard McKinnon, an employee at Jeff Knox’s Espree Auto Car Wash, said the bugs are bringing in business on an average of five to six vehicles a day.

"The love bugs are really bad this year and the farther south people go, the worse the bugs are," McKinnon said. "You can tell a difference even when a car is driven no farther down the road than Elba or Enterprise."

The bugs are bringing a "bumper" business to local detail shops and the automated and

do-it-yourself washes. For those who are tighter with a dollar or just enjoy the chore, it’s bucket and brush time.

"A lot of people are bringing in their cars just because of the bugs," McKinnon said. "If they’re not washed off right away, then you can’t get them off. Not even with buffing. The bugs have got some kind of acid in them that will eat right into the paint – the chrome, too, if you leave them on there long enough."

McKinnon said the best protection against the love bug invasion is a bug screen because it acts as a bug catcher and protects the paint job and it also cleans up easily.

"A good wax job on the front of the car will help also," he said.

The love bugs will stick around for about three weeks and then they’ll disappear again until this time next year. However, automobile owners who don’t take them seriously will be reminded of them every time they walk in front of their love bug bitten vehicle.

According to Kathy Flanders, extension entomologist at Auburn University,

love bugs are slender black colored flies with smoky colored wings about one-quarter inch long, although they seem much larger when firmly attached to the front of a new, pearl white Lexus.

Love bugs are flies in the family Bibionidae, Flanders said. There are several species of the bugs that are usually a nuisance along the Gulf Coast in the spring because they fly in horrendous numbers and that swarm is followed by a small swarm in the fall.

"These flies do not bite, sting, transmit disease causing agents or damage homes," Flanders said. "They are a

nuisance to cars that drive through the swarms because they can damage the painted surface of the cars if their splatter is not cleaned off in a reasonable amount of time. Love bugs can also mess up windshields, obscuring the driver’s vision. In a worse case, love bugs can clog radiator fins, causing overheating."

The bugs will come inside if they are invited through opened windows and doors and damaged screens.

"Home owners can also caulk cracks and crevices and yard foggers may provide temporary relief of yard areas," Flanders said.

However, Flanders said it is best to learn to live with love bugs, because love


or not, they’ll be back year after year.