Lovebugs-Love is in the Air
Love is in the Air! Plecia neartica hardy, or more commonly known as the lovebug is out in high numbers both in Spring and Fall. Find huge numbers of lovebugs on nectar flowers in your landscape when they are actively mating. They are found on the side light colored buildings or homes. Lovebugs also litter the front of your car during the day.
Lovebugs are actually a fly which is not a Florida native, but an invasive species. Lovebugs came to Florida by 1947 via Louisiana in the 1920’s. They spread throughout Florida during the 1970’s. Lovebugs appear as male-female mated pairs abundantly two times per year – April through May, and August through September. The adults eat pollen and nectar so you may find them all over your flowering plants.
They are insects that experience complete metamorphosis. The result of all of this “love” in the landscape is about 600 eggs laid by the female in decaying vegetation, grass or manure. The eggs hatch into larvae that eat the material that they been laid in. The larvae then pupate. After they emerge from the pupa, they become either adult male or female lovebugs. The females are larger at about one-third of inch long, and the males are about one-quarter of an inch long. The males can be rather competitive during mating season sometimes going so far as trying to remove a mate in place. Once mated, you see them together with heads opposite each other. Thus, we call them lovebugs!
Pest or Annoyance?
Lovebugs can be a bit annoying because of their sheer numbers, They don’t bite or sting, they don’t damage turf or plants. They are often found on nectar plants during the day. For example, they were out in high numbers this past spring covering on many flowering plants including the Dahoon Holly’s flower clusters in the Sumter County Demonstration Garden. They also are attracted to areas with light paint, so can be found hanging out on buildings.
Since Lovebugs are active only during the day, the most detrimental part of lovebug season is the way they can litter your windshield, paint and even cover your radiator if you drive during daylight hours. They are slightly acidic so if you don’t clean them off and allow them to bake on your car in our Florida sunshine, you may have discolored spots on your car. If you are having to clean your car frequently during the mating season, you may consider putting on a light coating of baby oil on the front end of your car to make it easier to clean off. Also, you could add screens outside or inside the front end of your car so they aren’t able to coat your radiator and cause problems.
No Need to Treat
“Is there something I could spray to control them?” Well, the numbers are too high and they are too mobile to make spraying pesticides to control lovebugs practical or safe. If some of them make their way into your home or even into your car, you can vacuum them up which is preferable to spraying a pesticide in your home or car.
Lovebugs are annoying just by their sheer numbers; and the annoyance of the extra work needed to clean the front end of our cars both spring and fall.