Love Bugs are Back
If you’ve driven on any interstate during the past few weeks, chances are your car came away with a few (or hundreds of) new hood ornaments. May and September in the Southeastern United States are notoriously known as “love bug season.” And there are some very interesting facts about these bugs that we wanted to share.
- Love bugs are not native to Florida. They migrated slowly across the Gulf States from Central America and reached the Florida Panhandle in 1949.
- Female love bugs will fly up into swarms of male love bugs. When a lucky male unites with a female, their abdomens will stay attached for up to 2 days, although mating only lasts about 12 hours. The male then dies and is dragged around by the female.
- When they are united, the male transfers nutrients to the female so she’ll produce healthy eggs. Soon after she mates and lays eggs – a mere 150 to 600 of them – she will soon die.
- Under laboratory conditions, females live for about 72 hours, whereas males survive for about 92 hours. In nature, the adults live just long enough to mate, feed, disperse and deposit a batch of eggs, about three to four days.
- Love bugs can be seen almost every month of the year but their populations generally peak in May and September for a period of four to five weeks. When the bugs are gone, that just means all the adults have died, and it is a matter of months until the larvae developing in the ground finally mature into pupae and new adults emerge.
- The bugs are not the product of a botched experiment by the University of Florida. Urban myth suggests that the school created the love bugs to help solve a growing mosquito problem – all untrue.
- Wind currents have lifted love bugs up as high as 1500 feet in the air.
- Adult love bugs often feed on the nectar of flowering plants. Upon reaching maturity the love bug spends almost the entirety of its remaining life copulating with its mate, hence its numerous romantic nicknames like the honeymoon fly, telephone bug and kissybug.
- While annoying, love bugs are actually beneficial as larvae because they help to decompose dead plant material. The larvae develop on decaying plant material and under cow manure. That’s why emerging adults are often more abundant when you’re driving by cow pastures.
- Love bugs don’t bite or sting, nor do they carry any infectious diseases.