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DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) – Most people think love bugs are a nuisance, but not Ronnie Whitres.
Whitres loves the bugs. Whitres, the owner of Ronnie’s Clean Cars, said the love bugs are good business.
“I been doing this for over 30 years, and I know this time of year the love bugs come out, and I try to prepare myself,” Whitres said. “I get a bunch of bug pads and spray Mean Green on there.”
Whitres said he usually sees an increase in business during the month of September at his car wash business, which is located near downtown Dothan.
Phillip Carter, an urban regional extension agent for the state of Alabama, called the 2013 love bug season worse than last year because of the heavy rain to hit the Wiregrass in recent months. Carter called the month of September peak season for the love bugs.
Carter said dragon flies, spiders and birds the only natural predators for the love bugs.
He also called cars another primary predator. Carter said the love bug’s death as it hits a vehicle can be quite damaging to the vehicle if it’s not cleaned off within 24 hours. He said the longer the bug’s remains stay on the car they become acidic in the heat of the sun.
“They’re also attracted to the (vehicle’s) exhaust because it’s mimics the smell of decaying matter,” Carter said.
Carter said they’re also often attracted to heat emitted from vehicles. He also said they’re attracted to light colored buildings, and low lying areas.
Carter also said love bug comes from the March Fly family and is scientifically referred to as plecia nearctica.
“They have several nick names you know Honey Moon Flies, Kissing Bugs and that’s why we always see them when they’re mating and stuck together,” Carter said.
Carter said the adult love bugs actually eat pollen and nectar just like a regular honey bee, but the juvenile love bug eats decaying organic matter such as grass clippings or leaf piles. Love bugs don’t bite, he said.
Carter also attributed the rise of the love bug to the reproductive cycle of the female, which can lay between 200 to 400 eggs. He said the typical love bug’s life span is pretty short – about nine days for the male love, and two to three days for the female love.
“They’re really around here about three to four more weeks, maybe a little bit longer in some areas,” Carter said. “It will probably be toward the end of September before we really start to see them diminish.”
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