Mother Nature is not only bringing high fire danger and hot summer temperatures to Colorado, it is also leading to an exploding insect population that could end up costing you.
Summertime road trips bring thousands of cars to highways across the state, but this year traffic has something else to contend with.
"The bug fest is what we call it," tow truck driver Richard Bertrand said.
For the last seven years, Bertrand has been the one rescuing travelers stranded on the side of the road. But even he and his company, Pro Tow, have been victimized by bugs this time around.
"You've got your radiator and condensers back in behind your grill. What happens is your air conditioning doesn't work and then your engine starts to overheat," he described.
And Bertrand is seeing more and more instances of this because of an abnormally high amount of bugs near the highway.
"They're clogging people's radiators which leads to engine overheating."
"The ones on the river are caddisflies," Colorado State University entomologist Bob Hammon said.
Hammon has been working as a bug scientist for over 25 years, spending most of his time at the Tri-River Extension Office in Grand Junction for CSU. He also holds a master's degree in the entomology.
He says a perfect storm of sorts dating back to last year has created this natural phenomenon. "It's a two year cycle," he said. "There was a lot of food last year and very little mortality this winter.
"There are millions of them."
The bugs normally hatch around Mother's Day which was earlier this year in May. Hammon says the average life of a caddisfly is about 10 days.
Still, many are being seen along the Colorado River. Hammon says other area waterways, like the Arkansas River, have not seen the same explosion in population.
"It wouldn't surprise me if it was being seen in rivers across the country, but not all of them," Hammon explained.
The bugs serve a purpose, he says. "They're not a problem, but more of a natural phenomenon," Hammon said. "They are very beneficial because they are low on food chain and feed a lot of fish out there."
While scientists suggest it is a good sign to see these large populations, our tow truck driver is only calling it a problem.
"This year has got to the the worst in probably a long, long time," Bertrand said.
And mechanics warn that if you don't catch the problem early on and clean it up, it could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.
"The problem can create other symptoms," Bertrand said. "It can affect the airflow, overheat the engine, and cause your car to use more fuel."
An overheated engine can also lead to problems with a car's pistons and blown head gaskets. Bertrand says an easy way to prevent bugs from leading to significant damage is to use a water hose to dislodge debris before spraying your grill and radiator with a high pressure air hose.
Scientists, meanwhile, say while these conditions are ideal for caddisflies, many other insect species are dying off because of the drought.