Flying Around with a Dead Partner and Other Fun Lovebug Facts
We're all familiar with the old adage "April Showers bring May Flowers". In East Texas, perhaps we should add the following: "August Precipitation brings September Infestation".
Anyone who has lived in the Pineywoods for a few years realizes the infestation in question is of those shameless, paint-eating, windshield-smearing, stinking lovebugs. We did have a rather wet end to August and now we are reaping the benefits (sarcastically spoken, of course).
Some parts of Deep East Texas are more affected than others. For instance, I live out in the sticks near Hudson and there are 2 or 3 patches that I drive through that cause me to end up with about 30-35 unwanted window passengers. But, I've seen other vehicles in parking lots throughout the area that look to have struck lovebug bombs, with intestinal shrapnel spewed on windshields, grills, and headlights. How in the world do helmet-less motorcyclists manage not to swallow these critters while heading down the highway?
I thought I would do some research and pass along some of my findings on Plecia Nearctica - the Lovebug.
- They were first documented around 1940 in Southeast Texas, however, there are reports of lovebugs as early as 1911 in Louisiana.
- There is no truth to the urban legend that lovebugs came into existence because of a Florida university experiment gone bad
- They are originally from Central America
- The female is a shameless hussy. She is known to fly into a swarm of males until she 'hooks up' with one of the guys. They attach at the abdomen and end up mating for 12 HOURS! Then, the male dies and the female will end up flying around with the attached cadaver for a day or two until she detaches, lays eggs, and dies. (This leads me to believe that these bugs purposely smash themselves against cars and trucks, the male because he's just too worn out for the love session to continue, and the female because she's tired of toting around the low-life, good-for-nothing-more, dead spouse.)
- One female lovebug can lay up to 600 eggs
- Eggs and the ensuing larvae are found around decaying plant material and under cow manure. Which is a big reason why lovebug swarms are thickest around thickets and forests and around cow pastures.
- The average life span for a love bug is 3-5 days.
- Lovebug swarm seasons occur in May and September, however, the swarms in September seem to be thicker, especially with August rain.
- Did I mention that they copulate for 12 HOURS STRAIGHT!
- Research shows that lovebugs are attracted to exhaust fumes, engine heat, and vehicle vibrations.
- Lovebugs are weak flyers, so an oscillating fan around outdoor patio gatherings should keep them at bay.
- The fatty tissue of lovebugs is quite acidic and can damage paint rather quickly. It's advised that you wash your vehicle within 24 hours of getting them on the paint of your car or truck. A hood deflector is a good item to have attached to your vehicle and keeping your car waxed during September and May is a good idea to ensure easier clean up. Recent advancements have led to the development of more durable paints that do a better job of resisting wear and erosion due to bugs.
- In a personal test, I noticed that 27 mph seems to be the squashing speed of lovebugs. In other words, if you're traveling under 27 mph, most lovebugs will just hit your windshield and just roll upwards without exploding. However, once you approach 30 mph or above, it's smash city.
The best way to avoid lovebugs is to move to north, I hear Ogalalla, Nebraska is nice this time of year, or hibernate for the month of September. Actually, Presidential campaign season runs through November 8th, so, I'd go ahead and sleep til then.