Love-bug (05)

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Love-bug (Plecia nearctica Hardy)

***** Location: Southern Part of US
***** Season: Summer
***** Category: Animal


We used to travel through Florida in the summers. Sometimes the bugs were so thick that you would have to stop every 100 miles or so to clean the radiator grill and windshield or you would end up with an overheated engine and a opaque windshield (the windshield wippers were more smearers than wippers).

"chibi" (pen-name for Dennis M. Holmes)


That's what they really look like. They're most often seen in flight and crawling around in exactly this most compromising position. Every day for four weeks at a time. Twice a year. Everywhere you look. All day long.

They're not bad bugs.

They don't bite. They don't damage crops. They don't fly at night. They're not an environmental hazard. They're just...

Once successfully coupled, nothing on earth will ever sever or dis-sever their love. In fact, after the act is done, the male becomes just so much dead weight. The lady love bug turns her thoughts to being momma love bug, and she simply flies off. Unfortunately, daddy is still sort of locked into momma, and that's the familiar perspective we Southerners get to see, as in the drawing above.
If he's lucky, she'll drop him off (or rub him off) on a handy bit of foliage. If he's unlucky, she'll just keep flying along with him haplessly in tow. (Dr. Phil Koehler, of the University of Florida says they like to "fly united.")

The female then lays her eggs. Her average life span is about 68 hours, but if she's got it in her to rise again, she can extend her life to about 89 hours, which is the only evidence I've ever heard of that this particular act can extend one's life span!

Sometimes hundreds of these copulating bugs per minute. Splat on the windshield, the mirrors, and the fins of the radiator. With enough love bugs, visibility through the windshield is reduced. Add enough love bug carcasses, and a car will overheat.

Love bug bodies are slightly acidic all by themselves, but if they remain in place on a car's finish for one or two days, bacterial action causes them to become more acidic, and they can etch car paint.

Dr. Koehler says that a love bug's "one important natural enemy is a car."

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Things found on the way


love-bug -- better the boot than the bonnet

Actually this is probably a tad TOO witty for haiku, but, boot and bonnet are car part British names (boot = American car trunk; bonnet = American car hood). Love-bug is an insect not much larger than the width of a man's thumb that mate during the summer in the South
(especially in Florida). There are clouds of these insects on the roads and splatter the fast traveling vehicles with a rather grotesque thickness of bodies. The bugs seem attracted to the heat of the asphalt and subsequent fumes.

The verse is a pun on the idiom "getting the boot". So, it is better for the bugs to "hit the boot" or rear of the car, than, the bonnet or front of the car... if you get what I mean.

"chibi" (pen-name for Dennis M. Holmes)


Joined at the waistline,
Flitting around the air in love.
They are unashamed.

Splat, splat, splat-splat-splat.
Memorial Day road trip.
A windshield drum roll.

TBO, Florida

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