Are lovebugs, like Cupid’s golden arrow, a complete February fiction? As a matter of fact, we can confirm that the lovebug, otherwise known as Plecia nearctica Hardy, is real. These velvety black flies appropriately sport a romantic red thorax and mate in Florida twice a year, peaking in May and September.
In keeping with their amorous name, these flies are often seen locked together in pairs during the swarming flights. Distracted and slow-moving, they become a nuisance to motorists, often ending up extravagantly splattered in frustrating quantities on headlights and windshields. It’s a good idea to clean up the mess quickly with soap and water, as the body fluids of the lovebug are acidic and may damage the paint if left to fester.
Lovebugs made their way to the United States from Central America, first arriving in Texas before ambling east to Florida. They are generally active during the day and, like many of us, prefer a warm day. Their strange attraction to Florida highways is the result of a regrettable confusion – they apparently mistake exhaust fumes for decomposing plants and are further lured by the heat off the asphalt. Unfortunately, it is not the ideal habitat for a slow mating flight, much to the chagrin of all involved.
While out and about in February, most of us will have to wait for the spring to see lovebugs again. Not to worry, it’s on its way.
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