During spring and summer, love bugs are a familiar sight in North Carolina and other southern states. Many people spend hours cleaning their car after driving through a swarm. Native to Central America, love bugs arrived in the United States in the early twentieth century.
Love bugs resemble small wasps, with black bodies and a reddish thorax. Read on to learn 7 more facts about these creatures.
#1: Males and Females Stick Together
During mating, male and female love bugs attach to each other at the abdomen. They literally stick together as they fly through the air, resulting in nicknames such as “honeymoon bugs” and “double-headed bugs.” After mating, the male dies and the female drags his body for a couple of days — the rest of her brief life.
#2: Adult Life Span is Only a Few Days
Speaking of short lives, adult love bugs live for just a few days. A female’s life span is about 72 hours, while a male lives about 92 hours. In other words, love bugs live long enough to mate and lay eggs.
#3: Female Lays Hundreds of Eggs at a Time
A female love bug typically lays 150 to 300 eggs at a time. Sometimes there can be up to 600 eggs in a batch. It’s no wonder that love bugs can seem to be everywhere. In spite of their brief lives, they certainly manage to perpetuate their species.
#4: Mating Takes Place Twice a Year
Although you may see love bugs at any time during the warmest months, swarms are most visible during the two mating seasons in spring and late summer. The bugs find mates in the swarm. Males and females attach to each other and remain that way for 12 hours during fertilization. Within 3 or 4 days, the bugs die.
#5: They’re Related to Mosquitoes
They may be a nuisance, but love bugs do not bite or sting. However, they have a lot in common with insects that do bite. Love bugs are not even classified as true bugs. They are actually a type of March fly and are closely related to mosquitoes and biting midges.
#6: Dead Love Bugs Can Damage Car Paint
Harmless to humans, love bugs can damage your car. When you drive through a swarm, their bodies stick to the car. You’ll want to remove the dead bugs as soon as possible because they contain acid that will damage car paint. Plus, the bodies are more difficult to wash off when they have dried. Old-fashioned soap and water and plenty of scrubbing are your best bet in this situation.
#7: Larvae Help Decompose Plant Matter
Love bugs do have a beneficial effect on soil. The females lay their eggs in the ground, often in cow pastures. As the larvae develop, they help dead plant material and manure decompose and enrich the soil.
Final Thoughts on Love Bugs
Twice every year in North Carolina, love bugs seem to be everywhere. Both annoying and beneficial, they have brief but complex lives.