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Researchers Dispel Long-time Lovebug Myths

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) - It's love bug season and researchers are putting some long-time myths to rest including how they actually effect your paint job.

"People definitely notice them when they hit the car," said Dr. Norman Leppla, PhD; a researcher and professor at the University of Florida. "They come out as adults in May and September and the rest of the time, they live as larvae." The reason, according to experts, is that adults come out, reproduce and lay their eggs. "Emergence is somewhat dependent on temperature, so we get earlier emergence in the south of Florida." But how did the pesky insect get here in the first place?

Urban legend has it love bugs were created in a lab experiment gone wrong.

"In fact, it would be impossible to do any kind of genetic modification of a plant feeding insect."

Ok so they've evolved like every other bug. But another rumor is that they're acidic eating holes in everything they touch. A rumor Dr. Leppla got to the bottom of.

"I've put them in various solutions, I've tested them for pH. And then I went and scraped them off of cars. I have tried to discover any acidic qualities and can't find any," he says it's leaving them sit on your car for long periods of time that damages your paint job. But they can be avoided.

"They're most abundant in mid-morning, mid-afternoon, they don't fly at night," he said. They're also attracted to the exhaust coming from your vehicle. "When you're painting your house, for example, they're attracted to light colors."

No matter how pesky though, he says they're still just doing what they've adapted to do.

"Around your home you can avoid them with fans. They don't fly very well. So, focus on the things that can really be a problem and just kind of let love bugs be," he added.

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