On the internet when you search for love bugs, you see this question asked over and over again — Are “love bugs” the result of a genetic experiment gone wrong at the University of Florida? After a little research, found out that Snopes says this statement is FALSE. The University of Florida does not have anything to do with love bugs but just in case here is some information all about the love bugs:
The love bug (Plecia nearctica) is a species of march fly found in parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. It is also known as the honeymoon fly or double-headed bug. During and after mating, adult pairs remain coupled, even in flight, for up to several days.
The “love bug,” is a nuisance any Florida motorist is unhappily more than passingly familiar with. Though these bugs neither bite nor sting, at certain times of the year their sheer numbers transform these innocuous insects into airborne hordes seemingly determined to devil anyone fool enough to take to the road.
The adults splatter on windshields, lights, grills, and radiators of motor vehicles, and their dried remains are hard to remove. Suicidal pairs of love bugs have been known to cause overheating of motors when large numbers of them are drawn into the cooling systems of liquid-cooled engines. Unlike other bugs, something particular to them adversely affects the paint jobs on cars, pitting and etching the paint if their mortal remains are left on vehicles for more than 48 hours.
Every May and September these sex-crazed critters become an annoyance bordering on intolerable as the air teems with mating pairs. But the “love bugs” haven’t always been part of the Floridian landscape, thus we’ve seen an abundance of “mad scientist” stories about how the state came to be infested with them. (Love bugs are not solely a Floridian plague; they range throughout the Gulf states and into Mexico and Central America, as well as up into Georgia and South Carolina. But they seem particularly enamored of Florida.)
The University of Florida IFAS reports that “love bugs are small black flies with a dull, somewhat velvety appearance, except that the top of the thorax (the area immediately behind the head) is red. Males are 6-7 mm, and females are 6-9 mm in length and vary considerably in size as males weigh 6 to 10 mg and females 15 to 25 mg. The weight difference between sexes is largely due to the ovaries which contain 70 percent of the total protein. Neither sex has the ability to store lipids in fat body cells (Van Handel 1976). Hetrick (1970a) stated that adult males live for two to three days and females can live for a week or longer and mate with more than one male. However, Thornhill (1976c) recorded recapture data that showed males lived longer in the field than females. In his study, single females were collected up to four days after release while single males were collected five days after release”.
Each of the two Plecia nearctica generations in Florida lasts about four weeks in April-May and August-September. In addition to the two large emergences, this species has been collected in Florida every month of the year except November (Buschman 1976). A more recent study by Cherry and Raid (2000) shows a minor flight peak in December for south Florida that had been previously unrecorded. This later study does not contradict the importance of the two major flight peaks earlier in the year, but does state that in south Florida most of the adults seem to appear in April during the first yearly flight.
Female love bugs can lay as many as 100-350 eggs and regularly lay these eggs around decaying material on the top layer of ground soil. Love bug eggs generally hatch after 2–4 days, depending on flight season. Once the eggs have hatched, the larvae start feeding on the decaying material around them, such as decaying plants on the soil and other organic material, and live and remain in the soil until they develop to the pupa stage. During the warmer months the love bug larvae remain in the larvae phase for approximately 120 days and approximately 240 days during the cooler months. Love bugs typically stay in the pupa stage about 7–9 days before reaching the adult phase, in which they can start reproducing.
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