Lovebug, Vol. 4, No. 26
Your Extension Experts
August 12, 2002
May 27, 2002
May 7, 2001
April 23, 2001
November 13, 2000
They really do occur as singles, but they don’t stay that way long. These orange and black flies are all too familiar to southern motorists. There are two generations per year, one in late spring and the second in September. The fall flight is usually much larger than the spring flight, and like most insects, their populations are cyclic, so they are even more numerous some years than others. Although lovebugs occur statewide, populations are consistently highest in southern counties.
Where do they come from? The larvae feed on decaying vegetation found in the thatch of lawns, pastures, roadsides, and similar sites, causing no harm and going unnoticed. After pupation, adults emerge synchronously at the times previously discussed. This is why there is no good treatment for lovebugs. They breed over such a large area and in such large numbers that it just would not be practical, or logistically feasible, to attempt to prevent outbreaks by controlling the larvae. Controlling adults around the yard will not help much either, because during heavy flights new insects are arriving hourly.
In addition to being attracted to each other, adults are also attracted to compounds in the exhausts of both gas and diesel-powered engines, but only after the exhaust has been exposed to sunlight for a while and broken down into the chemicals lovebugs find attractive. This is why they concentrate on and along roadways, where many end up on windshields, car hoods and radiators. They are also attracted to white, yellow, or other light-colored surfaces, as well as some compounds in drying paint.
Coping With Heavy Flights: In areas where lovebugs are common, motorists should check radiators regularly to be sure they do not become clogged with lovebugs and overheat. Because decaying insect bodies tend to breakdown auto paint finishes, it is a good idea to wash the critters off of automobile surfaces regularly. One method is to wet surface and allow the smashed insects to soak for a few minutes before washing with soapy water. Repeat as needed! Not surprisingly, there are many other home remedies for removing love bugs or preventing them from damaging car finishes. Folks who live in lovebug country often find hood deflectors to be helpful in reducing the number of these and other insects that accumulate on the windshield, and they help preserve butterflies. In areas where lovebugs are especially abundant, it is usually a good idea to postpone outdoor painting projects during heavy flights. Fortunately, flights are relatively short-lived, lasting only a few weeks.
What did the lovebug say when it flew into the windshield?
“It took a lot of guts to do that!”
What did the windshield say to the lovebug?
“Bet you don’t have enough guts to do it again.”
Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist, Mississippi State University Extension Service.
The information given here is for educational purposes only. Always read and follow current label directions. Specific commercial products are mentioned as examples only and reference to specific products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended to other products that may also be suitable and appropriately labeled.