ORLANDO, Fla. — Floridians know there are three distinct seasons in the state: summer, hurricane and lovebug.
If you haven’t already noticed by the mess on the front bumper of your car, we’ve recently entered lovebug season.
There are many urban legends about the conjoined nuisance insects. But University of Central Florida biology postdoctoral researcher Nash Turley set out to debunk those myths in a video and blog post last year.
The most common myth, she said, is that the University of Florida is behind the creature’s creation.
“They’re originally from, experts think, Central and South America,” Turley said. “They were first described as a species in eastern Texas in 1940. Since then, they’ve been moving east and were all throughout Florida by the 1970s.”
Now they plague the state twice a year in spring (late April and May) and in fall (August and September). That’s when the adults come out to mate, Turley said.
“The whole rest of the year, they’re still around but they live in the soil,” he said.
He said their name comes from their obvious mating habits.
He said you can identify the males by their smaller bodies and larger eyes, which help them find females in mating swarms. The females are larger and have smaller beadier eyes.
Covered in pollen, the lovebugs might help in pollinating some plants, but briefly interfere with honeybees trying to do the same thing, Turley said.
“They’re only out for maybe a week or so while they’re out mating, and then they lay eggs,” he said.
By the end of May, the swarms of lovebugs will taper. But their eggs hatch into larva in the soil. For months they’ll wait, eating things like decomposing leaves. In August or September, they’ll metamorphose into more flies and emerge for our second love bug season of the year.
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