Lovebugs

Lovebugs are also known as March flies. They are identified by their black, slender body and red thorax. Lovebugs are closely related to mosquitos and gnats. The males are about ¼ inch in length, the females are 1/3 inch in length. There are two types of lovebugs in the U.S. One is a native species while the other is an invasive one. This invasive lovebug first appeared in Southern Louisiana during the 1920’s. This outbreak quickly spread south, crossing deep into Mississippi and Alabama, then finally reaching Florida in 1947. Since then they have migrated north, reaching Georgia to South Carolina. Both species have two key outbreaks in population a year: once during April-May and the next in August-September. Often, they are found near or by highways and are a severe nuisance and hindrance to drivers.

Lovebugs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle

The females will lay 100-350 eggs under debris and decaying vegetation. The larvae will hatch after 20 days, they will feed on the decaying plant vegetation. The larvae will convert the plant material into nutrients that can then be used by the growing plant, acting as a decomposer. The larvae pupates after it matures and has stopped feeding on the decomposing vegetation. In warmer climates, like Florida, the generations during the summer is significantly shorter than the winter generation. This is because the rate at which the larvae pupate increases significantly with an increase in temperature. The pupal stage generally last about seven to nine days.

The adults are nonthreatening to humans because they do not bite or sting. They usually only feed on nectar from various plants. These would include: sweet clover, goldenrod, and Brazilian pepper. Males live for about 92 hours under laboratory conditions. Females only live up to 72 hours. However, in nature, the adults only live long enough to mate, feed, disperse and deposit a batch of eggs. This is about three to four days. Lovebugs flying are mostly restricted to daylight hours and temperatures about 68 degrees F. At night, they rest on low growing vegetation.

 

Hinder Motorist

Lovebugs are certainly a very considerable nuisance to motorists. The insects spatter on the windshields of cars because the insects congregate in very unbelievable numbers along highways. The windshields become severely covered with the fatty remains and vision is obstructed. They can cause cars to overheat because they can fly into the radiator fins and clog it. Another malfunction would be due to them flying into refrigeration equipment on work trucks. If the fatty remains of the lovebugs are not removed within a few days, it will cause pitting of the car’s finish. Sometimes they will fly into houses under construction in such numbers that workers will refuse to work. Another worker disrupted is a beekeeper. They complain due to worker bees not visiting flowers that have been infested with the lovebugs.

There have been quite a few insecticides that were evaluated for effectiveness in controlling larvae and adults. They mostly kill them but are pretty impractical due to high populations of the insect which occur over vast areas of the state. A vacuum cleaner can also be used to remove adults from confined areas, such as in buildings and vehicles.

Florida-Lovebug-Cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg068

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