Why lovebug mating season is bad for your car's paint job

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Love is in the air, quite literally -- but it’s not the kind anyone’s looking for.

It’s mating season for lovebugs, those pesky pests that fly around mating for hours on end.

The season occurs in May and August, when the weather is transitioning. 

USF Biology Professor Deby Cassill studies insects. She explained why lovebugs are always hanging around highways.

“They are really attracted to the reflection of sunlight on cars, and also the reflection of sunlight on asphalt, and the fumes that are low to the road,” Cassill said.

Even worse than the splatter, their guts can ruin the finish on your car. 

“When they hit a car and the body squashes and their normal acidity is about a six, almost neutral," she said. "But within the day, because of sunlight and drying processes, the acidity ramps up to about a 4 PH. [The] lower the number, the more acidic.”

Roland Valle, who works at Tampa’s Prestige Auto Wash on Kennedy Blvd, has seen it every day for the last few weeks.

“They will definitely start to affect the surface of a car's paint," he said. "If they’re not cleaned up immediately, that sun is going to transform that acid, and it is going to take paint with it.”

And if you're heading to get your car washed, he says a standard wash won’t get the job done.

“None of those components inside a car wash are designed to be abrasive," he said. "They polish a car.”

Instead, he said, you need a little bit of elbow grease, a non-abrasive scrubber and soap. And remember: this only lasts a few weeks. 

“They don’t suck our blood, and they’re not a carrier of diseases, like their cousin the mosquito,” Cassill said. “They’re kind of what I call a first-world pest.”

And lovebugs have a benefit too: the bugs feed off the bacteria of plants, helping them thrive.