Love Bugs Are Back! Here's how to deal with the pesky critters

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Love is in the air! You've probably noticed it's mating season for Florida's love bugs. 

They're petite, pesky and a real problem for drivers like Alex Merlino who takes pride in their ride. He says he's at the car wash at least once a week washing off what's left of hundreds of love bugs. 

"I feel like if you don't really wash it that much and try to scrub them off, it can actually mess up the clear coat." 

That’s something Tampa Entomologist Tom Wisdo, agrees with. "They're acidic and that acid body once it mashes into the paint, if you let that bake on for several days, it's going to pitch your paint,” he said.

So, is there any real way to prevent the pest from sticking to your paint? 

"Some people use Vaseline. I think that's a little messy,” said Wisdo.

So, perhaps try a cleaner and yet more economical option. Dryer sheets. "Whatever chemical that's in there that brings the static out, will also take the love bugs off very quickly." 

Unfortunately, the love bug population isn't likely to decline anytime soon. "I don't think birds really like to eat them. They probably do but they're very bitter." Meaning Merlino and other drivers will likely keep making regular visits to the car wash. 

Here are a few more love bug facts

When they are active – Love bugs tend to be most active between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. They prefer it when the temperature outside is above 84 degrees. 

Why they love highways so much – For those wondering just why it is love bugs tend to congregate in a suicidal dance along roadways, the university delivers an answer. These insects are attracted to decomposing plants. Unfortunately, for people's cars and their paint jobs, the odor of exhaust fumes confuses and draws them. What's more, they just like heat, so highways are the place to be. 

Other things that attract them – The University of Florida's entomology department has an online primer about the bugs that lists a host of attractants. One of the reasons why the critters seem drawn to garage doors is the fact that adults are attracted to surfaces that are light-colored. They also seem to enjoy freshly painted surfaces. 

How to remove them from vehicles – These little guys are known for getting "baked" onto hard car surfaces and may damage paint if they are left in place. With that in mind, it's best to wash them off as soon as possible using a basic soap-and-water solution. UF's entomology department notes a good soaking of about 20 minutes might be required to loosen them for removal. 

How to get rid of them – This can be rather problematic. UF says chemical pesticides are pretty ineffective against the twice yearly swarms.

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