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Loving the Love Bug?

Floridians don’t love the Love Bug – especially, when these critters start feeling amorous in the months of May and September.  During these months, these red and black flies swarm around the roadways and make themselves a nuisance to Florida drivers.

What is the Love Bug?

In reality, a Love Bug is not a bug – it is a fly.  They are related to the mosquito and the sand fly.  However, unlike their cousins, the Love Bug does not bite or sting.  In fact, they don’t spread diseases and they don’t even buzz when they fly!

Love Bugs get their name because they fly while the male and the female are paired together engaged in amorous activity.  The male flies into the air trying to attract the female.  Once the female is attracted and coupled with the male, the female flies off looking for a suitable home for the eggs while dragging the male behind her.  Both the female and male flies are dark black insects with a red thorax, although the female is the larger of the two.

Why do they loiter at the roadway?

Love Bugs loiter at roadways because their food source, decaying mowed grass, is usually located on the side of the road.  They also seem to be attracted to the exhaust fumes of a car because they confuse the exhaust smell with the smell of decaying vegetation.  In addition, they love the heat that warm asphalt emits.  A Florida road meets all three of these conditions, which is why many Love Bugs choose to lay eggs next to the road.  Once the bugs grow past the larvae stage, they begin the mating process next to their food source.

However, because there can be hundreds, if not thousands, of Love Bugs swarming in the air at the same time, they can cause damage to cars.  They have been known to clog an engine if they obstruct the airflow.  They can do damage to a car’s paint as the bodies of the dead Love Bugs on the car start to decay and breakdown.  They can be dangerous to drivers if they cover the windshield, blocking the driver’s vision.

Were they really created in a lab?

There is an urban legend that states that the Love Bug was actually created in a laboratory at the University of Florida.  This is not true.  Love Bugs originate from Central America, and although it’s not known exactly how they got to the United States, they did get to Florida via Texas and Louisiana.  Although they can also be found in Georgia and South Carolina, they seem to prefer Florida to other states.

If you’re driving along the roadway and start to enter a Love Bug swarm, don’t be alarmed.  These bugs won’t hurt you, although they may hurt your car.  Therefore, it’s best to wash off your car when you get to your destination or as soon as feasibly possible.

13 Aug

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