Lovebugs are insect pests that belong to the Bibionidae family in the Diptera order of flies, making lovebugs closely related to many other fly pests, such as mosquitoes, gnats and houseflies. Lovebugs are also commonly known as March flies and they can be recognized by their 4 to 10 mm black slender bodies and orange-colored thorax. Lovebugs become serious areawide pests in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states when massive mating swarms emerge during the late spring and early fall seasons. Females place their eggs anywhere where an abundance of living and dead plant matter can be found, including residential lawns and gardens. Larvae develop within leaf-litter and grass thatch where they feed on dead vegetation and nectar before taking flight for a short time to mate as adults. Residents living on properties where eggs have become abundant may become pestered by overwhelmingly large lovebug swarms that sometimes make their way indoors where they congregate in certain areas.
Two lovebug species have been documented in Louisiana, one of which, Plecia nearctica, is an invasive species. P. nearctica was first discovered in the US when specimens were recovered from an international trade vessel that had docked at a port on the coast of Louisiana during the 1920s. Luckily, adult lovebugs are poor fliers and can easily be killed with fly swatters, but their sheer numbers make eradicating lovebug infestations from homes a difficult undertaking. Also, only adult lovebugs are capable of flight, and adults live for only a very short time in order to mate. Adult lovebugs are attracted to dark, humid and wet habitats, making storage areas, basements, cellars and crawl spaces ideal indoor habitats for these airborne pests. Within homes and buildings, lovebugs can stain fabrics. Lovebugs are also a common nuisance on home construction sites, and incidents have seen construction workers refuse to work due to bothersome lovebug swarms. Perhaps worst of all, lovebugs congregate on highways where they become splattered on fast moving vehicles. This causes the insects’ corrosive internal fluids to damage cosmetic paint on cars. Since lovebugs are weak and slow fliers, they can be controlled with a vacuum and bug spray.
Have you ever encountered a swarm of lovebugs during the fall season?