MANATEE, Fla. — They are the stuff of conspiracy theories, myth and legend.
And the subject of scholarly papers as well as the bane of drivers who encounter them in vast swarms this time of year.
They are, of course, lovebugs.
Bill Hoog was cleaning the windshield of a late model car this week at a Hess gas station.
"I have a new car sitting in the garage at home, and I don't even think about taking it out," Hoog said.
One gas aisle over, the front end of Jay Dickerson's pickup truck was encrusted with lovebugs, a reminder of his drive. He had business to tend to after filling up, and would leave the lovebug cleanup for later.
A few miles away, Sonny Gatanis was in a Bradenton car wash, his Jeep covered in suds.
"I'm washing it three times a week," Gatanis said.
The reality for Florida drivers in April and May and again in August and September is that they will encounter lovebugs on Florida roads and streets.
How many depends in part on wind patterns, said Lisa Hickey, master gardener coordinator at the Manatee County Extension office in Palmetto.
Lovebug pairs are not strong fliers, according to "Living with Lovebugs," a University of Florida fact sheet. They tend to remain within a few hundred yards of where they emerge when there is little or no wind.
Read more of this story at Bradenton.com