Fall must be getting close I am seeing our first lovebugs of the fall season. We don't have much of a fall here in the Houston area so the emergence of lovebugs is always an indicator that fall is in the air.
My first introduction to Texas lovebugs was 10 years ago when we moved to Texas. We saw them on a house hunting trip the fall prior to moving here and someone told me they were lovebugs that came in the spring and the fall and would just be here for a short time. Sure enough our first spring in the Houston area they emerged again and this time someone told me that they were from an experiment that went awry in Florida. Back then I was not as web savvy as I am now, nor was there as much information readily available so I took that explanation as the truth for years. Last spring someone in Active Rain, who lives in Florida, wrote a post on them and I realized that I did not have factual information about these critters.
This year as I see them emerging I decided to do some investigation. I found a report from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and got the real scoop. These insects are actually from the fly family. They appear soon after rainy periods in the spring and especially in the fall. It says they appear in the wooded Upper Coast counties of Texas. I guess I have never thought of Harris and Montgomery Counties in that regard but believe me we have our fair share of lovebugs. There scientific name is Plecia nearctica Hardy. The common name they have been given is "lovebug" because they are often seen flying in mating pairs. I would even go so far as to say they are usually seen flying in mating pairs.
They actually help nature by decomposing dead plant tissues. There mass adult emergence is dictated by environmental conditions during specific times of the year (prolonged period soil saturation from rains). This would of course be in the spring and again in the fall. They can be a nuisance. Cars can become splattered with these loving bugs and it can cause radiator fins to become clogged and cause cars to overheat. If the dead insects are not cleaned off the car they can also ruin the car's finish.
They are relatively harmless, they don't bite and you can just swat them away. Because of their harmless biology, chemical control is not recommended. They did give some helpful tips to be followed during the swarming season.
- They don't fly at night so you can do your driving at night. (I don't think that tip is going to help much in showing houses).
- If you reduce your speed you will get fewer flies smeared over your car.
- Netting can be stretched over front grills to prevent crushed flies from clogging radiators.
- There are commercial products you can buy to help facilitate the removal of the crushed bugs from car finishes.
I have noticed that they are attracted to light colors. They seem to congregate on anything that is light colored. The last few years we have not had many lovebugs but I can remember in years past the light colored post on my patio almost being covered with them when the sun was shining.
Luckily they only appear for a few weeks in the spring and again at late summer or early fall. One thing about them appearing is that I know the seasons are getting ready to change. We don't have much indication otherwise. We have had a very wet year now that I know more about them it will be interesting to see how many we have this year.
I know Texas and Florida are visited by the lovebugs. Are there any other states out there who share our lovebug experience?