Writers learn about all sorts of esoteric topics as research for our books. Most of the time, readers can enjoy learning about new things along with us, as long as we avoid what our editors call “info dumps.” But what we don’t put into our story can make an interesting topic for a blog post.
For EASTER HAIR HUNT, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, I decided to learn more about love bugs. These pesky insects plague us during spring and fall months. When driving up the Florida turnpike at these times, you might hear the bugs go splat on your windshield. Your visibility might diminish since using windshield wipers will only smear them. They can also make a mess of your car’s finish if not promptly washed off.
The black-bodied insects with a reddish-orange thorax — scientific name Plecia Nearctica—are sometimes called honeymoon flies because of their coupled flight. They came to the Florida via Central America in the 1940s. Because love bugs do not have many natural enemies, their population continues to grow. People consider them to be a pest.
During copulation, males face the opposite direction of the female. Love bugs remain paired this way for about three days. Then the male gets exhausted and dies. The female lays her eggs and then she perishes. Love bug larvae use decaying vegetation as a source of food. This aids in decomposing plant matter and provides nutrients to the soil.
May and September are their most popular months. They wait until the sun comes up and the air warms before moving around. Thousands of males may be seen hovering over a single pasture, waiting for the females to stir. Once mated, they forage for food, which is pollen and nectar. They stop feeding in the late afternoon. The pairs land on vegetation to rest during the night.
Love bugs are attracted to freshly painted surfaces and may be seen in dried paint on buildings. They’re especially attracted to car fumes on highways. These fumes contain organic compounds that smell similar to the decaying organic material where females lay their eggs. For this reason, the bugs will also congregate at gas stations.
Along the road, they splatter against car windshields, leaving a residue that can become a driving hazard. Using windshield wipers will only smear the mess. Their bodies can cause damage to car paint if you don’t clean them off. Their natural elements of decomposition plus heat from the sun cause compounds that can dissolve the paint. Other sources say their bodies are acidic, hence the damage. Here are some measures you can take, although I haven’t personally verified them:
When you arrive at your destination, wash the front of your car with water. Scrub it with a dryer sheet or a bug splatter sponge, and rinse again.
Use a deflector screen on the front of your car to prevent the bugs from sticking to the grill, or spray the front grill with cooking spray before driving.
Buy a bug remover solution that will remove the residue.
Take your vehicle to a professional car wash as soon as possible and pay extra for custom attention. (This one is my choice.)
What bugs you about love bugs? Have you encountered these pesky critters?
Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries
An Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor leads hairstylist Marla Vail to discover more than just dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. Marla and her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail, make an eggcellent team. He knows Marla finds solving mysteries and hare-raising adventures to be irresistible, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can Marla pull a rabbit out of her hat and crack the case of the body in the bunny suit? Recipes Included!
Amazon Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083TZ78G1
Amazon Print – https://www.amazon.com/Easter-Hair-Hunt-Bad-Mysteries/dp/0999793276/
BN Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1136016947?ean=2940162711889
Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/easter-hair-hunt/id1494917053?ls=1
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/easter-hair-hunt
Books2Read – https://books2read.com/EasterHairHunt
IndieBound – https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780999793275
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50494022-easter-hair-hunt
BookBub – https://bit.ly/2u7ggIu
Website – https://nancyjcohen.com/easter-hair-hunt/
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