Few bugs found in the southeastern United States are as aggravating, clumsy, misunderstood and useless as the Lovebug. Their purpose is not an obvious one and it seems that the rest of nature does not care much for this slow flying Casanova. Birds won’t eat them and spiders cut them out of their webs letting them fall to the ground. Hungry lizards slither right by without so much as a second look and other predatory insectivores do the same. About the only winner with the Love bug onslaught that comes twice per year is the corner car wash.
Many people believe that the University of Florida invented this bug to combat the states Mosquito population and that experiment went way wrong. While there may be some doubt that the gator scientist invented the sports drink Gatorade, there is no truth to the Lovebug conspiracy being hatched in the secret labs of Gainesville. Go Gators.
The Lovebug is not even actually a bug but it is in the order of Diptera and is in the March fly family which make him a fly, so you could call them Love flies. It is also known as the honeymoon fly, telephonebug, kissybug or double-headedbug.
The Lovebug larvae (maggots) do serve a purpose as they eat dead vegetation usually in tall grass where the female lays her eggs. This stage can last up to 9 months so that can be a lot of recycling. Lovebugs come out twice per year, first in late April or May and then again in the late summer. The adults eat nectar and spend their days copulating continually even in flight. Soon after mating is finished the male dies but often stays attached to the female until she lays her eggs.
The range of the Lovebug is from Texas to Florida and as high up the east coast as North Carolina. The slow flight and the not yet understood propensity to hang around roads and highways make them a nuisance to motorists and riding a motorcycle quite an adventure. Some believe it is the emissions of the vehicles that attract the flies while others say it’s actually the sunlight that reflects off the carbon monoxide or asphalt. Their guts and egg sacs are acidic so they play havoc on a paint job if you don’t remove them before they dry on your hood or chrome.
There really is no control for Lovebugs and since they are harmless there is no agency that I know of working on it. There is a rumor that the LSU Tigers are working on training the Lovebug to fly in the face of Tim Tebow cardboard cutouts in hopes they can somehow stop him with next seasons game. For now though, that seems to be just another unfounded conspiracy.