espite their common name, the lovebug (Plecia nearctica) is not a "bug" but a member of the order Diptera. This true fly spends 5-7 months of its life as larvae in the leaf litter feeding on decomposing matter. After a rainy period in the spring (April-May) and again in the fall (September-October) the adults emerge synchronously in large swarms that cloud the air for several weeks. Males appear first and hover over the emergence site waiting for opportunity to mate with subsequently emerging females. They are called "lovebugs" because matings occur in flight with the much larger female controlling the direction of flight. For more information on lovebugs, go to the links below:
University of Florida "Featured Creatures"
University of Florida "Where Did Lovebugs Come From?"
Texas A&M University on Lovebugs
any people don't realize that these little dipterans are actually invaders from Central America and have been working their way northward along the coast. They have been spotted as far north as Wilmington, NC. A research team at the University of South Carolina is interested in understanding how this northward migration is affecting the lovebugs' developmental stability. This effort requires the help of citizen scientists to help us keep track of when and where emergences are taking place. For the more adventurous among you, we are always interested in good photos or video footage of these flies in action!
Many folks from South Carolina (especially near
Columbia) and parts of Georgia are reporting what appears to be a lovebug. However, they may actually be either dark-winged fungus gnats or box elder bugs!
Click here to see more information and photos of dark-winged fungus gnats and box elder bugs.