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Joined in splatrimony

Lovebugs hook up in April and September. Romance ends suddenly, usually on a windshield.

By Times Staff Writer
Published September 18, 2003

photo
[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Lovebugs hook up in April and September. Romance ends suddenly, usually on a windshield.

It's that time of year again, the swarming of the small black flies that hover in city parks and smash into headlights. Here's what you should know about lovebugs:

WHERE ARE THEY? Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and parts of Central America. In Florida, the first recorded sightings were in Escambia County in 1947. They have moved south.

WHEN DO THEY ARRIVE? Twice a year, in late April and early September, for four to five weeks.

ARE THEY HARMFUL? They do not sting or bite.

HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE? Females fly into a swarm of males, and males latch onto their backs. They fly together, feeding on nectar and mating. They may separate while eating, but not while flying or at night.

WHERE IS THE LOVE? Up to eight males compete for every female. The eyes of males are four times larger to help them spot potential mates.

WHEN DO THEY FLY? Mostly during the day, peaking at 10 a.m. At dark, they perch on growing vegetation and wait for morning.

AMAZING LOVEBUG FLIGHTS: Pairs have reached altitudes of 1,500 feet. They have flown several miles over the Gulf of Mexico.

WHY DO THEY LIKE CARS? Lovebugs are attracted to exhaust fumes and hot engines.

HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE? Two to four days.

WHY DO THEY KEEP COMING BACK? Females can lay about 350 eggs beneath decaying vegetation, mostly in moist or damp areas. The babies hatch the next season.

WHY DO THEY EXIST? To break down organic matter, feed birds and spiders and keep carwashes in business.

- SOURCES: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service and University of Florida professors J.P. Cuda and N.C. Leppla.

[Last modified September 18, 2003, 02:03:00]


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