Lovebugs are known to wreak havoc on properties including cars, outdoor surfaces and buildings. They come in large numbers and usually difficult to control. These honeymoon flies are constantly stuck together in pairs. Let’s demystify a theory that lovebugs are a result of lab experiment gone wrong in a Florida University.
A popular theory claimed that lovebugs were as a result of an experiment gone wrong in a lab at the University of Florida as researchers were trying to modify the genetics of a mosquito to stop it from reproducing. In the process, the modified insect escaped from the lab and gave rise to a large population of the ever mating bugs.
This theory was investigated by various scholars who clarified that lovebugs are not manmade and they exist in nature like any other insects. Contrary to believe by most people, adult lovebugs does not eat mosquitoes but feed on plant nectar from flowers and decomposing plant materials while in larva stage .
Where Do Lovebugs Come From?
Lovebugs are small- to medium-sized flies with a reddish-brown thorax and black bodies that appear velvety. They are native to Central America and migrated through southeastern Texas to Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
May and September is the Florida lovebug season. This is when they are actively mating and reproducing many offspring. Fortunately, they have a relatively short lifespan and their season last about 4 weeks. Lovebugs earned their name because they are constantly stuck together during mating.
Large populations of lovebugs is attributed to constant mating, disinterest in predators to feed on them and the costs and environmental threats of using a pesticide to control them. Fortunately, after mating for two to three days, they die once the female lay their fertilized eggs as explained by the University of Florida.
Are Lovebugs Harmful?
Lovebugs are mainly a nuisance to humans. They are not poisonous, do not bite, sting or transmit diseases. The flies are usually attracted to decomposing plant materials. Heat and exhaust fumes also attract them in large numbers to highways and on the vehicles spattering against hood and windshield.
This can result to car overheating, reduced driver visibility and damaged paint on the cars. In yard, lovebugs will pack on driveways, patios and walls as try to enter inside buildings through windows, doors or any openings. During a lovebug season, these flies are active between 10. Am and 6. Pm.
Honeymoon flies are also important part of the ecosystem. Their larva usually feed on decomposing plant and animal matters. This essentially helps in recycling of nutrients back into the ground which is important for plant.
How to Get Rid of Lovebugs in your Yard
There are a number of safe ways to control lovebugs in your yard.
- Mow your lawn before lovebug season and remove the grass clipping. This is to avoid thatch and decomposing matter which are loved so much by these insects.
- Avoid or minimize running your lawn mower or car engines in the yard during their active season. Adult lovebugs are attracted to heat and exhaust fumes from these machines.
- Using a mixture of water and soap solution, wash your vinyl siding or walls to get rid of the bugs trying to enter your home.
- To get rid of these bugs on your patio or deck, simply blow them away using a powerful leaf blower.
- For the bugs that have already entered into a building, use a vacuum cleaner to suck and discard them in a bag and throw them away.
- Use a bug screen such as mosquito netting curtains on your patios and entrances to your home.
- Try applying insect repellent products formulated for keeping away mosquitoes. Essential oils or DEET can help in keeping bugs while you are outdoors.
- Like most insects, lovebugs are weak flying insects that don’t like a strong breeze and therefore you can install fans on your porch or covered patio to keep them away.
- Minimize bright surfaces or colorful flowers in your yard. Lovebugs are highly attractive to bright surfaces and items.
What to do for Lovebugs on your car
Lovebugs get attracted to heat and exhaust fumes of a car. This is why you will see them swarming highways and allover your car hood and windshield. This can lead to a number of problems including engine overheating, staining of paint on the panels and poor visibility that can result to accidents when driving.
- Avoid driving in swarms of lovebugs as this can be catastrophic. Poor visibility may lead to accidents on a highway.
- If you accidentally encounter the bugs while driving, simply pull off until when they disappear with sundown.
- Wax your car right before the lovebug season. Their remains on the car panels become easy to remove when you have waxed.
- Cover your car while in the yard to avoid the bugs from entering into the engine compartment. You could also install a car mask and a filter screen while driving in areas with the bugs.
- Use baby oil or baby shampoo to easily remove dead lovebugs on your car.
Lovebugs are a great nuisance and their large numbers makes it difficult to deal with them. Insecticides are not effective against these pests. If you were to use one, then a large amount will need to be applied. This is not only uneconomical but also unsafe to the environment.
Fortunately, lovebugs have a short lifespan and they will disappear when their mating season ends. Lovebug larva can survive in grass thatch and in decomposing materials for greater part of the year as they wait for their season to arrive. They will them pupate into adults as their cycle continues.
Other than the above recommended interventions for controlling lovebugs, further studies have established a possibility of using a parasitic fungi to kill their larva which will greatly reduce their population.