Tips from the Help Desk… Lovebugs, what’s there to love? June 2022

by David Austin, the Hometown Gardener                                                                                                                                                                                                            Residential Horticulture Agent                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Master Gardener Coordinator                                                                                                                                                                                                                   UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County, Fl. 

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Seasonal trouble

There is a bug Floridians love to hate. The lovebug, Plecia nearctica, inspires very little love in most humans.  The love half of the name, no doubt, came from the fact that they are often seen flying connected together while mating. The bug half is probably from the fact that they bug most humans. Twice a year, generally in May and September, they pupate into the Lovebug we all love to hate. It is then that they swarm the highways and do their damage to our auto’s paint and windshields. They cover buildings and people and seemingly make life miserable for humankind. If they come in large numbers while palmetto is blooming, the honey bees refuse to share flowers with them, which can interfere with the honey crop.

The front left fender of a black automobile is covered with squashed lovebugs
Lovebugs splattered on the grill and fender of a car can be an irritating event for any driver. photo compliments of IFAS Communications

A bugs life?

Lovebugs are in the insect order Diptera, which actually makes them flies, not bugs. As an adult fly, they live a short life.  They only live long enough to mate, and lay eggs, and they soon die. The rest of their life is spent in the ground in a nymph or maggot stage. There they have become an important part of our ecosystem, breaking down grass thatch to release its nutrients.  Lovebugs are not native to Florida but arrived from South America in the 1940s. No, they are not an experiment gone wrong by the University of Florida. That is a myth that seems to have been perpetuated over time.

Learning to love!

This season while you are cleaning lovebugs off your car bumper, remember that they do some good even though we cannot see it happen. If you do not want them to remove your auto’s paint, clean them off within a day of them getting on the car. Soaking the car with water and rubbing them off dryer fabric softener sheets seems to be a good way to remove them. Lovebugs are here to stay and even though you will never love them, you may eventually learn to tolerate them. You can learn more about Lovebugs by reading here.

Keep in Touch with UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County

In Highlands County, our office is at 4509 W George Blvd., Sebring. The Master Gardener Help Desk is open Monday – Friday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.

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david austin
Posted: July 14, 2022

Category: Horticulture, Pests & Disease,
Tags: Highlands County, Highlands Horticulture Digest, Hometown Gardener, Insects, Master Gardener Volunteers, Tips From The Help Desk, UF/IFAS Extension

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