Love bugs and Dragonflies

It’s that time of year when the south is covered in love bugs and damsel flies.  You just can’t get away from them. 

I had a pair of love bugs fly along side of me from my car to the front door of Publix today; like their job was to escort me to the door.  They swarm you when you get back to your car and if you’re lucky they won’t get in with you.  It’s difficult to pack the car with a lot of groceries.  Love bugs just don’t know they’re not welcome on the ride home.  Well, a pair of love bugs just didn’t get it today and ended up at home with me  attached to my purse.  They crawled down to the kitchen floor and were stepped on.  They must not taste good because my dog stayed away from them.  Usually she has to taste every unwanted critter that gets smashed in the house.

According to an article I read from the University of Florida extension office love bugs are actually small black flies with red thoraxes.  They fly two times each year:  the spring flight occurs during late April and May.  A second flight occurs during late August and September. Flights extend over periods of 4 to 5 weeks. Mating takes place almost immediately after emergence of the females. Adult females live only 2-3 days, except the ones that I hit with my car.  They don’t have a chance to live that long.

“The female lovebugs lay from 100 to 350 eggs which are deposited beneath decaying vegetation.”  I guess they’re in all the pine straw we use here as mulch in our gardens.

“Adult lovebugs are harmless and do not sting or bite. They feed on the nectar of various plants, especially sweet clover, goldenrod and brazilian pepper. Usually, lovebug flights are restricted to daylight hours and temperatures above 68°F. At night lovebugs rest on low growing vegetation.”  For more detailed info check out the site: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG068

Love bugs are everywhere and you can’t help but to hit them.  The front of every car in the south is coated in black this time of year.  I haven’t taken many long trips recently so my car is only slightly coated but I remember one year driving through Charleston SC; the windshield and the front grill were so filthy by the time we got where we intended that we had to wash the car.

Damselflies and dragonflies are everywhere, too, but I enjoy them a lot.  So what’s the difference?  Damselflies, when they are at rest, hold their wings paralled to their bodies.  They are smaller than dragonflies.  Dragonflies hold their wings perpendicular to their bodies.  These critters eat mosquitoes, flies, flying ants, and butterflies. I wonder if they eat lovebugs.

 They come in beautiful colors.  One day I hope to have a better camera so I can take pictures of them.  I don’t like hitting these creatures with my car; thankfully they’re not as plentiful over the roadways.  They search for food over the grassy areas and marshes. 

Enjoy them while they are here because when they’re gone for the season, winter will be on its way. 

Wonder what a South Alabama Winter is like.

 

EDITED 9-9-09: Lovebugs seem to like heat.  I read on several websites that they are attracted to a chemical in automobile exhaust and also to heat.  I’ve pulled up at the grocery store and parked the car in a spot where there were no love bugs congregating.  Then suddenly by the time I’m out of the car, it is swarmed by bugs.  When I got home yesterday there were no lovebugs flying near the front of the house.  I moment after going in the house we looked outside and found the front of my car covered in lovebugs.  It was creepy.  I later went out and found my car was having engine troubles.  Could be the battery…I’m due for a new one.  Or…is it lovebug damage?  And does insurance cover it?  Probably not. 

Edited again: it was just the battery.

Edited 9/23/09: Its been raining so much lately that I just realized the love bugs are gone.  It must have happened last week.  I don’t remember seeing them over the weekend.  So, they were here about a month.