I happened to be driving along the highway down on the Gulf Coast when it began raining heavily – but this rain was black and orange – and very strange.
It began raining so heavily that my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up, and I had to keep stopping and clearing both the windshield and the headlights.
Black and Orange Rain, you say?
Yes, it was raining Love Bugs.
The ‘love bug’ (also known as the honeymoon fly, telephone bug, double-headed bug, united bug, and March fly) is apparently a common nuisance down on the Gulf Coast that local residents are unhappily more than passingly familiar with.
Though these bugs neither bite nor sting, at certain times of the year their sheer numbers transform these innocuous insects into airborne hordes seemingly determined to bedevil anyone fool enough to take to the road – or anyone who remains outdoors for any length of time.
They are small flies that are in the process of mating when they swarm all over the roads, and all over anyone in their path. So usually there are two individuals tightly bonded together: the large one is the female and the small one is the male.
The female (as is the case in many species) usually gets her way, and she drags the male around everywhere with her.
These adult love bugs splatter on windshields, lights, grills, and radiators of motor vehicles, and I soon discovered that their dried remains are extremely hard to remove.
Suicidal pairs of love bugs have even been known to cause overheating of motors when large numbers of them are drawn into the cooling systems of liquid-cooled engines. Unlike other bugs, something particular to their body chemistry adversely affects the paint jobs on cars, pitting and etching the paint if their mortal remains are left on a vehicle for more than 48 hours.
And my nice new rented truck – was now quite a mess.
Every May and September along the Gulf Coast, these sex-crazed little critters become an annoyance bordering on intolerable as the air teems with hundreds of thousands of mating pairs.
I arrived at Base Camp right in the thick of mating season; and, I was wearing a white tee shirt. Within minutes, my tee shirt was completely black and orange, and my hair was chock full of these tiny critters.
But all of us soon settled in and began living as comfortably as we could with these love bugs, and often even eating and drinking them in the process. One day, someone brought out some chocolate chip cookies, and as we eagerly devoured them, the joke was: “Did I just eat a chocolate chip, or a love bug?!”
But on the bright side, while I was at Base Camp, not a single nasty biting mosquito could be found or heard - anywhere. Someone theorized that Katrina had blown them all away.
Maybe the demon known as Katrina had one redeeming feature after all.
©2005, Ed Kostro