Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Love Bug Jitter

There's a new dance craze sweeping the Walt Disney World resort: The Love Bug Jitter. It consists of hopping around frantically while screaming and slapping at your body. You can see it at any of the theme parks, and you can be reasonably certain that anyone you see performing this dance is not a Florida native.

Having lived in Celebration for a few years now, the twice-annual love bug invasion has become just another part of everyday life for me, like the ever-present lizards, the occasional 'gator, short but drenching afternoon showers, and the threat of hurricanes. I grimace when they splatter on my windshield and smack them away if they're tickling my bare skin, but otherwise they are an ignored part of the background.

Thus, it was with great amusement that I watched the reactions of unprepared tourists at Epcot the other day. You would have thought they were being swarmed with deadly stinging bees or fire ants; they jumped and writhed and slapped and screamed as though engulfed with dangerous, venemous insects.

The only danger from love bugs lies in their acidic guts, which have destroyed many a Floridian's automotive paint job. On human skin they are harmless. They alight but they don't bite; they are much more interested in getting as much mating done as possible before the end of their brief lifespan. This propensity for mating, and the fact that they tend to fly in attached pairs, is how they earned their name.

I saw the dance nearly everywhere I went. I could understand it if a person is truly bug-phobic, but the percentage of people I saw performing the Love Bug Jitter was way above the percentage of those who would harbor such a phobia. It's like being attacked by a piece of the real world when they thought they were immersed and protected in the womb of Disney's magic was too much for them to bear.

Perhaps the Epcot Food and Wine Festival played a role. Some of the most ardent dancers were freaking out about the bugs' proximity to their food. I wonder if they realize that the Food and Drug Administration allows a certain level of bug parts into the food consumed by Americans each day. For example, it's perfectly acceptable for peanut butter to contain 30 insect fragments per 100 grams, while wheat flour can contain a whopping 75 insect parts per 50 grams. Given those statistics, a love bug wing or two just added to the already-present "natural protein."

Whatever the reason, it was quite amusing to watch the acrobatics. I truly believe that some of those tourists could have tried out for "So You Think You Can Dance." Just release a few love bugs into the audition room and they'd launch into a dazzling performance.

Fortuntely, the nasty little buggers will die out over the next few weeks, and we'll have a reprieve till next spring. I'm sure that the popularity of the Love Bug Jitter will be renewed then too. If I happen to ever get bored in the theme parks during that season, all I need to do is plop onto a bench and look around me. There will be plenty of free entertainment, all brought to me courtesy of Florida's favorite bi-annual pest.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Barb - we just got back from WDW and witnessed the love bug dance ourselves (I may have even done a jig or two-LOL!). They were NOTHING compared to what we encountered on a gas stop in Brunswick, GA a few years ago - the air was so thick with them it was unbelievabel! Haha

Denise in PA