Annual plague of car-coating insects descends on Florida

Port St. Lucie, FL - (NBC) - South Florida may not see snow, but there's a blizzard of another kind making an impact on windshields everywhere: Love Bugs.

Sandy Benjamin stopped at the Florida Turnpike plaza in Port St. Lucie to take a picture.

His limousine is coated with love bugs.

"It's ridiculous, unbelievable. I wish it would rain so all this stuff would go away," said Benjamin.

At the service plaza, the line is backed up to the roadway to get a free windshield cleaning.

"It's just a real hassle. We had to stop at every rest stop and do this," said Terri Acosta of Miami.

Love bugs are an invasive species related to flies that first came to south Florida in the 1970s.

Because they don't sting or bite, there's no spraying program to get rid of them.

On Wednesday there were reports of massive swarms of love bugs between the Fort Pierce and Yeehaw Junction exits on the turnpike.

So what is it about cars that attract these love bugs?

Ken Gioeli, a master naturalist with the University of Florida, said there's a little science behind it.

"They're attracted not to the cars but the exhaust that comes out. When your exhaust hits UV light, the sunlight it acts like bait for these love bugs," said Gioeli.

Not only do the love bugs make a mess, they can do some lasting damage to your car if you don't get them off quickly.

"It's fairly acidic and if you let it stay on your car for a long period of time, it would pock mark the paint on your car," added Gioeli.

After using up his entire wiper fluid supply, Pete Cafaro came prepared with his Windex.

He makes the drive down from Orlando often.

"I've never seen it this bad before, ever," said Cafaro as he continued to clean the windshield of his Cadillac SUV.

The bugs will only be around for another four or five weeks.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.