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image of a lovebug on a leaf in florida

Florida Love Bugs Take Flight

In: Florida Pests

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Love bugs...sounds romantic, doesn't it? Um, no. In this case "love" equals "breeds like crazy". Some say this is because love bugs aren't regular insects. There is a rumor that love bugs are the result of a genetic experiment that went wrong. An article published on the internet in 2002 cited that a team at the University of Florida intended to genetically engineer a female bug that would efficiently deal a death blow to the mosquito population, by mating with male mosquitoes, and producing only sterile offspring. Over time, mosquitoes would go extinct, and the world would be a happier--and less itchy--place. But somewhere along the way they accidentally created a male love bug, and the two escaped into the wilds of Florida, to live and love. And, since they were created for procreation, the love bugs grew in population rapidly. This is why Florida is teaming with them now. Great theory, right? Sure, if at any time any single love bug ever mated with a mosquito in the history of the world. But, sadly, they do not.

The more likely story is that love bugs, which seem to be indigenous to South America, were brought to the United States by boat, and finding Florida to be similar to their home, settled in and began making babies. Since the predators that would feast on them live in South America, they were free to breed without too much hindrance. And, as it turns out, they're pretty into the whole breeding thing. That's why you get a ridiculous number of them smacking against your windshield on your way home from the store.

Love bugs aren't dangerous. They're just a nuisance. And, they can make a mess of your yard or house. During the day the females take flight in search of a place to lay their eggs, and the males chase after them. Female love bugs love to lay their eggs in dead animal carcasses, or decaying organic material, so they will seek out methane or Co2 gas, which is an indicator that a fertile egg laying site is near. This is why you will find them on the highways in mass numbers.

They will also visit yards that are near the highways, or yards that are attractive for laying eggs. Love bug females prefer decomposing animals, but they'll settle for a compost heap, still or stagnant water, and swampy areas.

Swarms are also attracted to houses with lots of landscaping. Sweet smelling flowers and plants offer an ideal place for their larva to live, and feeding love bugs eat the honey dew excretions from aphids and whiteflies.

Typically, the swarming bugs will die off within a week, but others will see their carcasses, and--believing the carcasses are an indication that this is a good place to feed--they will investigate. If your yard isn't clean and sprayed, the swarms will keep coming. Get a professional to come and assess your problem. They can help you get rid of your current infestation, and protect you from wave after wave of continued frustration.

Tags: pest control Florida  |  lovebug  |  Florida insects