Love bugs are here

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

They held on as I started driving down the road, clinging to each other and my side window. I was watching them from the corner of my eye as they came along for the ride.

I kind of felt sorry for them, because what they were doing was very private, and I would not want to be the cause of its interruption. But I was in traffic, and there was not a lot I could do but hope that they hang on.

Then I came to a light and slowed down. They let go, together, and flew away to who knows where.

It’s that time of the year again, when those pesky love bugs get into everything and can make driving or even walking a little messy.

These are the little flies that you and I routinely swat out of our way, that wipe out on our windshields and position their little selves so timely on freshly painted walls.

And, for some reason, they get right on top of sun-baked car hoods, on which they die within seconds. Unfortunately, they both die. Or, maybe, fortunately.

The male lives for about 92 hours under laboratory conditions, while the female dies in just about 72 hours. In the wild, their life cycle is significantly shorter. So don’t feel too badly about running into a few of them with your car. You probably haven’t cut into their natural lifespan all that much.

But try not to hit them them when they are coupled together, if you know what I mean. They’re doing something that is, to them, very important.

Just let them finish. Be patient, though, because they seem to be doing it for a long time. Oops. sorry. Hope it was good before the splatter.

There are too many of them to save each couple. But don’t worry, because for every one that succumbs to your vehicle’s windshields or grill, there will be hundreds more. Before she dies, the female lays about 100 to 350 eggs underneath debris and decaying vegetation.

Mom love bug doesn’t take any chances about being able to pass on her genes to a few hundred offsprings. And then she dies, about 20 hours before dad love bug.

It’s a shame that these little flies spend 20 days being born, only to die in a few hours.

But what do we care? Look at that windshield. There are love bugs all over it.

The first love bugs were spotted in Louisiana in the 1920s, probably by someone who noticed a new form of smudges on his windshield. Since then, they have spread to all the Gulf Coast states.

Love bug outbreak months are April-May and August-September. The current one has been quite a nuisance, if I say so myself (which I just did).

O.K., I’ll just walk to the gym. It’s a nice day. But as I make my way down the street, I am surrounded by love bugs. These ones have all paired up. They do that very early, almost right after the female gives some signs that she has been born. Then the males swoop down and look for the heaviest one.

Yes, they don’t like the skinny girl love bugs, because those have a less of a chance of reproducing.

hen they see one that signals love at first sight, about 10 of the males descend on her, and the strongest gets the grand prize. That’s how love bugs become love bugs.

So, by the time they swarm all around us, the male already had to show his macho to be able to claim his mate and fly into the sunset, if only for a few hours.

I’m walking, and these things keep bumping into me. Hey, watch where you are flying. Oh, yeah, I forgot. You two are a little pre-occupied right now.