Lovebugs have been flying like slow, drifting clouds of black snow here this week. Painted with a group of artists at The Hermitage (an artist retreat in Sarasota County). Many artists fled, but I stuck it out while the lovebugs stuck to my palette.
Here’s everything you should know about lovebugs while watching them smash into your windshield. And remember to wear sunglasses and keep your mouth shut, or hold your teeth closed like a grill, especially while riding your bike.
Urban legend. Lovebugs are synthetic! A genetic experiment that went wrong at the University of Florida to fight mosquitoes.
Lovebugs... Plecia nearctica Hardy (honeymoon bugs, kissing bugs), are small black flies about a third of an inch long. They invaded Florida sometime around 1947 from Central America through Texas and Louisiana. Useful in the larval stage, eating rotting vegetation, but when mature have two flights a year which last about four to five weeks. They swarm in the thousands, flying in tandem while mating for several days. Females only live two or three days and can lay up to 350 eggs.
They don’t bite or sting, just tickle when crawling on your neck. They are attracted to light colors, especially fresh paint (see photo of my palette! White is their favorite color).
They seem to be attracted to auto exhaust and hang around highways and intersections. They spatter windshields and obscure visibility. Turning on windshield wipers will only smear them worse. They can clog radiators, screens in front of grills help, or driving at night (they only fly in the day). They should be washed off cars immediately because the acid in their bodies can damage paint. Some people use baby oil or WD-40 on their fancy cars so the critters will wash off easier. I just drive an old wreck with a good film of dirt.