bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Monday, June 05, 2006


Splatology -- a fine word to start the week, coined by Mark Hostetler who drove 11,000 miles around the USA with a net strapped to the top of his 1984 Honda Accord to catch unlucky insects.

A few years ago he wrote That Gunk on Your Car: A Unique Guide to Insects of North America.

A red splat is probably from a female bug, most likely a mosquito, because that's the gender that does the most biting.

The smallest splats that leave a dot of wet sap are probably biting midges, tiny flies known in the South as no-see-ums.

Most insects fly 4 to 5 feet off the ground -- perfect striking distance by cars. Butterflies are a common victim because they're attracted to the yellow reflector lights on the highway, he said.

... It was lovebugs that got Dr. Hostetler started on this unusual research in the first place. While driving along Florida's Interstate 75 in May 1993, he pulled into a gas station. A guy from out of state, who could barely see out of his windshield because of the all the bug splats, asked him what all this stuff was.

Most prevalent in May and September, these black bugs fly in copulating pairs (hence the lovebug nickname for Plecia nearctica) and their splats can literally cover a windshield and car grill. Originally from Central America, they're working their way up the East Coast and have been spotted as far north as North Carolina.


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