I remember the first time I ever saw a love bug.
I was in the second grade, my first autumn season since moving to Florida. I remember marveling at how hot it was, how green the trees still were, for so late in the year. I remember thinking that Florida was nothing like anywhere else that I had lived.
That was when the bug landed on me, a double-headed monster with wings, and I remember being not scared, but confused by it. What kind of bug had two heads? Why were there so many of them, all of the sudden, and where had they been for the last two months?
On that day, my finest interviewing skills were whipped out as I grilled my classmates for any knowledge on the species that I would later learn to be called "love bugs". To my delight, my classmates were filled with information, but as I would later learn, most of that information was wrong.
There's a common myth throughout the state of Florida, one that many of my second grade comrades eagerly recounted to me that afternoon, that love bugs were developed in a lab at the University of Florida. According to legend, the bugs were genetically engineered to eat mosquitos, but ultimately failed to do so, relying on other resources for nourishment. A few of the bugs escaped, however, and bred rapidly, creating an entire new species of insect to haunt Florida twice a year. Luckily for us, this species did little harm to the ecosystem, unless of course one accounts for the damage done to the paint jobs of cars each year.
This theory, if examined even slightly, has many holes. For one, it is unlikely that any university, Floridian or otherwise, would believe it a good idea to artificially create a new species and then release it into the environment to see what happens, and that's relying on the assumption that the university would even be able to engineer a species as complicated as the love bug to begin with. Additionally, though not widespread throughout the nation, love bugs are present in other states and countries, as they migrated to Florida through Texas and Louisiana from Central America in the 20th Century.
The problem with this rumor is not, however, the easily countered holes in the logic, but the fact that so many Floridians believe it whole heartedly. This lie is passed from friend group to friend group, generation to generation, without anyone questioning the logic of the argument.
The proof behind this claim is one Google search away (one of the top links to the search of "love bugs" being an article by the University of Florida about the origins of love bugs, and how the university, in fact, did not invent them) but the people of Florida remain ignorant to the background of their most interesting insect. This is not the fault of the rumor itself, but the inability of people to question the information provided to them, and the laziness that prevents them from looking up the truth in a world where information is easier than ever to find.
So whether the matter is sometimes-double-headed bug related or not, being aware of the bias around information is always important. After all, rumors can only be spread by those lazy enough to believe them.