The love bug (Plecia nearctica) is a member of the family of March flies. They are also called the honeymoon fly, kissing or double-headed bug. Love Bugs are common to parts of Central America and southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. The bugs are synonymous with love or romance because during and after mating adult pairs can remain coupled, even in flight, for several days.
Their appearance each May and September becomes very noticeable as they collide with vehicles on local roadways. Generally seen in pairs locked in an amorous embrace, the slow-moving critters enjoy two mating seasons a year with, according to the University of Florida, four-week peaks each May and September.
Here are a few things residents need to know about these crazy critters as they begin their invasion courtesy of the University of Florida:
Where they come from – Supposedly, the University of Florida (UF) introduced love bugs to the Sunshine State. As with most urban legends, this is not true. UF says the bugs migrated from Central America, arriving first in Texas and Louisiana before spreading to Florida
When they are active – Love bugs tend to be most active between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. They prefer it when the temperature outside is above 84 degrees.
Why they love highways so much – Love bugs are attracted to decomposing plants. Unfortunately, for people’s cars and their paint jobs, the odor of exhaust fumes confuses the bugs and attracts them. They also like heat, so highways are perfect environments.
Other things that attract them – The University of Florida’s entomology department posted an online primer about the bugs that lists a host of attractants. One of the reasons why the critters seem drawn to garage doors is the fact that adults are attracted to surfaces that are light-colored. They also seem to enjoy freshly painted surfaces.
How to remove them from vehicles – These little guys are known for getting “baked” onto hard metal surfaces and can damage paint if left in place. It is best to wash them off as soon as possible using soap-and-water solution. UF’s entomology department notes a good soaking of about 20 minutes might be required to loosen them befor removal.