The lovebug was first described in 1940 by D. E. Hardy of Texas. At that time, he reported the incidence of lovebugs to be widespread, but most common in Texas and Louisiana. However, by the end of the 20th century the species had spread heavily to all areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Georgia, and South Carolina often reaching altitudes of 300 to 450 metres (980 to 1,480 ft) and extending several kilometers over the Gulf.
The larvae (maggots) feed on partially decayed vegetation in the landscape and, in this respect, are beneficial. Adults feed only on nectar during their brief lifespan.
Lovebug flights can number in the hundreds of thousands. The slow, drifting movement of the insects is almost reminiscent of snow fall except the flies also rise in the air. Two major flights occur each year, first in late spring, then again in late summer. In South Florida, a third (but smaller) flight can occur in December. The spring flight occurs during late April and May, the Summer flight during late August and September. Flights extend over periods of four to five weeks. Mating takes place almost immediately after emergence of the females. Adult females live only three to four days, while males live a little longer.
Lovebug adults are attracted to light-colored surfaces, especially if they are freshly painted, but the adults can congregate almost anywhere by reacting to the effects of sunlight on automobile fumes, asphalt, and other products affected by environmental factors still not completely understood.
Speculation about the lovebug abounds.
While lovebugs are not a favored food of most insectivores due to their acidic taste, lovebug larvae—and some adults—are food for birds such as quail and robins. Arthropod predators include spiders, some predatory insects such as earwigs and at least two species of beetle larvae, and a centipede.
Female lovebugs can lay up to 350 eggs at a time which which they deposit underneath decaying vegetation. Lovebugs do not sting or bite, and their flights are restricted to daylight hours and temperatures above 68°F.
Lovebugs are a major nuisance to motorists. They congregate in unbelievable numbers along highways and the insects spatter on the windshields and grills of moving trucks and automobiles. Windshields become covered with the fatty remains, and vision is obscured. During flights, the fli.
There are several things that can be done to lessen the problem facing motorists. By traveling at night motorists can avoid the insects; lovebugs reach peak activity at 10:00 am and stop flying at dusk. Traveling at slower speeds will reduce the number of bugs that will be spattered. A large screen placed in the front of the grill will keep the radiator fins from clogging, and will protect the finish on the front of the car. If a large screen is not used in front of the grill, at least place a small screen behind the grill in front of the radiator.
Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida
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