Lovebugs are are actually small members of the fly family. They appear throughout many regions of the United States and seem to have two primary seasons. The fist is in spring, during the months of April, May and June. The second season is during the fall and usually during the months August, September and October. Lovebugs are well known even though their season is both short and limited. This article will explain some basic biology of the Lovebug, explain why they are a major problem and what can be done to minimize and treat local infestations.
As stated above, lovebugs are flies. Their life follows that of most any insect; from eggs are hatched larva which then pupate and hatch as flying adults. This cycle can occur once or twice a year depending on local temperatures, food supplies and water availability. Clearly lovebugs do better when it is wet, damp and humid. Moisture leads to plant growth which in turn leads to more plants and organic matter available on which lovebugs like to feed. Eggs are laid on such matter; places like water ditches, catch basins, swamps and fields. Landscaping around homes can present some prime food plots as well. Mulch, compost and flower beds will all contain the very food and moist conditions females seek when they are looking to lay some eggs. Though females will only live 3-6 days, they can generate over 100 eggs a day. If the sight she chooses to lay her eggs contains a lot of moisture and food, the larva which hatch will grow fast and contribute to a large and strong swarming season. Climates which are warm and moist will have two strong swarming seasons; northern climates will tend to have strong spring swarms with little to no swarming in the fall.
Once large enough, larva will spin cocoons in which they will undergo metamorphosis and emerge as fully mature flying adults. This change will usually take 1-2 weeks. As flying adults, males have one thing on their minds: find females. Females have two things on their minds: first, find a male and then second, lay eggs. Both must do these tasks quickly since they only live a few days. In fact, it is quite common to find them mating as they are flying; this is how they earned themselves the nickname “lovebugs”. Once she has successfully mated, females can begin to lay fertilized eggs and will do so as long as she stays alive. To help maintain their energy, lovebugs will settle and alight during the evening and night hours. During this time they will feed on the nectar and honey dew found on their host plant. Come the light of the next day, they will be ready to go back to the air seeking mates and places where eggs can be laid.
It is during the daylight that lovebugs become a problem. During this time, males will do nothing but follow females. Females will seek good egg sites and consequently, massive swarms of these flies will form. Since females are searching for good places to lay eggs, they tend to be attracted to areas which produce methane or Co2 gas; both are associated with decaying organic matter. Car emissions have similar gases so consequently, lovebug swarms will find their way onto highways and through ways following the gases released by automobile exhaust pipes. It is here where lovebugs have earned their notorious reputation.
Swarms can get so large and thick that drivers cannot see creating an often times dangerous hazard. It is quite common to see many motorists pulled over waiting for the swarm to pass. Only then can they get back on the road and drive safely. Around homes, swarms will find compost piles, water filled ditches and other swampy areas which can be excellent places to lay eggs. If such areas are adjacent to a house, lovebugs will find their way inside. Homes with a leaky roof or siding that maintains more then a normal amount of water will certainly attract lovebugs.
Expect to see their swarms alight and congregate attempting to take advantage of what they believe would be a good place for their larva to live. If you have a well landscaped yard with plenty of flowers and other plants which produce nectar and other sweet smells of plant life, don’t be surprised if some swarms make a visit. They need nectar to fuel their swarming. Aphids and whiteflies, which are allowed to live in your plants, will cause the release of honey dew which in turn will attract feeding lovebugs. Such invasions can become messy and relentless. Worse yet is that once they start, they don’t seem to ever stop. The members of any swarm will die off within a week yet once they are found in or around any property, expect them to come back year after year if you don’t take some defensive measures. These measures will help to kill off local invasions so they don’t find their way into your home and become established.
Though only a seasonal pest, Lovebugs are a major nuisance when present. They’re existence on major highways and roadways is enough to cause traffic slow downs and in some cases, accidents. The density of these swarms is so great that visibility is limited and pulling over to the side of the road is sometimes the only logical thing that can be done by local motorists. The immediate danger is clearly apparent; not being able to see is extremely dangerous for anyone trying to drive. However, there are other problems associated with these swarms. Lovebugs can damage autos, over take ornamental flowers and trees forcing out beneficial insects and in some cases, invade your home. Here are some products and treatment options available to combat this persistent pest.
Lovebugs which get smashed on your car will cause more then just a mess if they are not removed within a couple of days. Like most insects, Lovebugs have digestive juices and enzymes which are mostly acidic. Once dead, these juices and enzymes are able to prey upon the body of the dead love bug. This process causes the release of fluids which are mostly low in PH and strong enough to burn metal and other surfaces found on cars. Crushed Lovebugs have these juices exposed must faster which in turn means the risk of cosmetic damage is increased. Cars which have poor finishes are more subject to rapid scaring and faster damage. New autos and any car with a good coat of wax will be better protected. However, the Lovebug fluids have been known to burn through wax finishes, new paint and just about any surface which is susceptible to acid. For this reason it is vital that you rinse your car as soon as you can following any encounter with a swarm.
LOVEBUG WINDSHIELD CLEANER
When Lovebugs are in season, you may find yourself having to wash the car daily. To help with the removal of smashed Lovebugs, use some BUG SHIELD WASHER FLUID instead of the common blue fluid if you want the same protection for your windshield. Bug Shield Washer Fluid won’t freeze down to 20 Degrees and it will quickly wash away dead bugs, tree sap, bird droppings and general road grime. Instead of just smearing the bug or the bird dropping all over your windshield like the regular wash does, Bug Shield Washer Fluid will break it down quickly and remove it altogether.
LOVEBUG CLEANING SPRAY
And if you have the time and a lot of bugs to remove, our BUG REMOVER formula would be better suited for this application need. This product is ideal for travel use or just after a long trip and you have a lot of bugs smashed on the front end and windshield of your car. It works by degrading and melting away the dead carcasses, bird droppings and other road tar buildup that can happen when making long trips. Just spray it on any bug or other dirt you see on your windshield or painted area, let it sit for 1-2 minutes and then either wash away with a hose or wipe it away with a rag. The great thing about this product is that it will effectively do all the work for you so you won’t have to scrub and brush or struggle with stubborn buildup. If you let it sit at least 2 minutes, it will pretty much degrade any mess enough to where it just washes away.
Another easy way to use it is when traveling. During any gas stop, just spray some out first thing before you do anything else. Now go back to filling your car with gas, using the rest room, etc. During this time the Bug Remover has time to do it’s job. Right before you leave use a rag or the window wiper to remove anything you sprayed. At that point the targeted dirt will come right off. This product is so effective on glass that the windshield wipers on your car will be more then strong enough to remove whatever is there after Bug Remover has a chance to do it’s job.
Around the home, Lovebugs can be a nuisance when they start to congregate on plants or flowers. If a few are present, they will barely be noticed. However, as soon as a significant swarm appears, they will take over shrubs, flowers, trees and any plant they find which releases nectar or honey dew. Though they won’t eat the plant, they will drive off other insects. This could become significant if the other insects are important to the plants development. Lovebugs have been known to keep bees away which in turn could cause pollination problems.
LOVEBUG CONTROL SPRAY
If you have sensitive plants which are being targeted by swarms of Lovebugs, treat with some INSECTICIDAL SOAP. This product will kill off the Lovebugs on contact but won’t leave any residual. This means other insects can return to the plant once the treatment dries and not be at any risk. Use Insecticidal Soap as needed to thin out local migrations until activity subsides.
LOVEBUG CONTROL YARD SPRAY
If you are finding the Lovebugs are drawn to some damp area of your yard and suspect they may be targeting the area to use it as a breeding ground, use some PERMETHRIN SFR for a quick knockdown. This active will work immediately on Lovebugs and when sprayed over turf, mulch and flower beds, Permethrin SFR will get all the burrowing females trying to lay eggs. This is critical if you want to stop local infestations from using your yard as a reproduction site. Since they will return year after year, infestations which are small at first will rapidly get out of control. A combination of pheromones and organic gases will continue to attract more and more adults so be prepared to treat several times during the swarming season. These treatments will pay dividends and usually after a couple of seasons of treating, activity will be under control or non-existent. Be sure to use a HOSE END SPRAYER when spraying over lawn and garden areas. It takes a lot of water to get the Permethrin soaked into the turf and these sprayers are easy to calibrate to insure a lot of water is used.
If your yard is small and you don’t need the coverage Permethrin SFR provides, get some CYONARA RTS. It’s similar to the Permethrin but comes in a handy “ready to spray” quart jug. This packaging will be better suited for small infestations or small areas needing treatment.
If the invasion and swarms have found your home and you are finding Lovebugs throughout the living area of the house, use some of the Deltamethrin or Permethrin inside to knock them down. These liquids are good for baseboard treatments and will kill any Lovebugs which crawl over the treated surface. If you have them flying around inside the home or just outside on your deck or patio, use a HAND HELD ZAPPER for a quick yet clean way to kill them. These devices are easy to use, powered by batteries and will kill any Lovebug on contact without making a mess. They work for mosquitoes, bees, wasps, spiders and just about any crawling or flying pest as well. But this won’t stop the invasion.
LOVEBUG CONTROL SPRAY FOR THE HOME
To keep them out of living areas, you will need to inject a material deep into the voids and spaces where they are entering. A good product for the job is PT-MICROCARE. It comes with a thin narrow straw enabling you to get it behind molding and into wall voids where it will have a maximum impact. Treatments will both kill on contact as well as provide 1-2 weeks of control. Lovebugs don’t like the active ingredient of Microcare, which is Pyrethrin, and the Micro Encapsulated design of Microcare insures it will remain active for a couple of weeks. The one weakness of regular Pyrethrin is that it has no residual which means you must apply it over and over again. However, Microcare uses small time released capsules to protect the Pyrethrin. These capsules protect most of what you spray so that it all is not released when first applied. Instead, only when capsules break down and hatch can Pyrethrin become active. This enables treatments to remain in voids for much longer time periods which in turn provide for more complete protection. Though the infestation may only be active a month or two, Lovebugs which are left to have access to such voids will try to nest in them. This nesting will lead to egg laying and if moisture levels are right, problems will grow from year to year. Treat them when first detected to insure they won’t be able to establish themselves.
Lovebugs are a major problem for 1-2 months each spring and fall in many parts of the United States. Their swarms invade yards, homes and roadways. Lovebugs create dangerous driving conditions and their dead bodies, which accumulate on our autos, will pit and burn through most any wax finish. Treat your auto with some Bug Shield to allow for easy cleaning when swarming season is active. Keep a Hand Held Zapper around the home for fast control of Lovebugs which get into the home. Use Microcare inside if they are invading as well and be sure to spray buildings, landscape and plants with any of the liquid concentrates listed above if you want to keep them out of your yard altogether.