Love is in the air in Charleston. Did we say love? No, we mean love bugs. Love bugs, also known as the honeymoon fly and double-headed bug, are in the air in Charleston. Here's what you need to know:
According to a paper published by the University of Florida, Biology of the "Love-Bug", Plecia Nearctica by L.A. Hetrick, the bugs have two major "flights" every year, lasting about four weeks — a spring flight in May, and a fall flight during September.
Hetrick writes that individual male love bugs only live for two or three days, while females may live for a week or longer. During mating, the male flies stay attached to the female, who controls the activity of the amorous pair, until the male dies. Tough luck, brother. Females will mate with multiple males and then lay eggs in or on soil near decaying plant matter and die. What a life.
The bugs don't bite — adults feed on pollen and larvae feed on dead plants. They are attracted to light colored, recently painted surfaces. The bugs don't have many natural predators and even the masses that are squished on cars don't make a dent in their population.
According to the University of Florida's entomology and nematology department, large numbers of them can clog car radiators and if the remains are left on automobile paint for several days, squished love bugs can cause damage to the paint due to the acidic composition of their bodies.
So, if you have 99 problems and they're all love bugs, here are a few tips from the people at the Farmers' Almanac.
Use your fan: keeping the fan on high during the day can make it harder for the bugs to fly.
Mow your grass: love bug larvae grow in thatch, so the less of it, the better. While it may not help this year, future you may thank you.
Use a spray: the Farmers' Almanac recommends this spray to deter the bugs:
1 cup water
3 tablespoons citrus dish soap
3 tablespoons mouthwash
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray on plants, walls, and other effected areas.
Do as the love bugs do: grab someone you love and hold 'em tight.