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Love Bug

Common Name: Love Bug, March Fly

Scientific Name: Order Diptera, family Bibionidae, Plecia nearctica

Size: Adult--7/8" to 1"

Identification: Wetland flies that are called love bugs because the male and female are usually seen together in the act of copulation.

Biology and Life Cycle: These bugs emerge twice a year. Their mating flights are in May and September, which is when they smash themselves en masse on the front of your car and windshield. They lay their eggs in rotting organic matter. Flights last four or five days; each adult lives only two to three days. Pupal stage lasts seven to ten days. Females lay 100 to 300 eggs, which are deposited beneath decaying vegetation. Flights are usually restricted to daylight hours and temperatures over 68 degrees. At night love bugs rest on low-growing vegetation.

Habitat: Old rotting grass and other organic matter in low damp areas. They become active in the air around ten o'clock in the morning.

Fedding Habits: Adult lovebugs are harmless and do not sting or bite. They feed on nectar, especially that of sweet clover, goldenrod, and other wildflowers.

Economic Importance: Good for the car wash business. Larvae feed on decaying plant material and help break it down.

Natural Control: Birds such as robins and quail. Armadillos eat the larvae. Earwigs, beetles, and centipedes.

Organic Control: None needed.

Insight: Phil Callahan explains in his wonderful book Tuning into Nature that mating love bugs actually do you a favor by smashing into the windshield as you drive at night. They make you stop, clean the windshield, and get a cup of coffee. Callahan's humorous comment aside, love bugs are a nuisance to motorists. Besides messing up the windshield and paint, they clog radiator fins and can cause overheating. They can also cause truck refrigeration to malfunction. Beekeepers report that the bugs repel bees from flowers.


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