I drove to the Tampa area and back this weekend and brought back a real Florida souvenir.
‘Tis the season in Central Florida for the lovebug invasion.
They’re baaaack: Twice a year, pesky, invasive lovebugs swarm Florida, splattering their gooey insides on car hoods and windshields, flying into people’s mouths, and even annoying the visitors at the Happiest Place on Earth.
In recent days, Florida social media users have been sharing video and photos of the annoying insects as the bugs descend on the state in what many people are calling “the worst lovebug year ever.”
“The weather between October and April can have a large impact on how bad the season will be,” meteorologist Candace Campos wrote on Click Orlando. “This is a vital time when they lay eggs and those eggs become larva down at the soil surface.”
According to Campos, the larvae lay dormant for several months, and thrive when the weather is slightly warmer and drier than usual.
“Looking back at fall 2018, winter 2019 and the early part of spring, warmer and drier weather has been common” in Florida, she said. “Temperatures have hovered about 2 to 3 degrees above normal since October, with rain totals running about 2 to 3 inches below the average.”
This means the time is ideal for lovebug growth.
Lovebugs are an invasive species, also known as the honeymoon fly or double-headed bug. During and after mating, adult pairs remain coupled, even in flight, for up to several days. And contrary to rumors, they weren’t genetically modified and then released by scientists as a way to rid Florida of mosquitoes — they don’t even eat mosquitoes.
University of Florida (UF) researchers suspect their spread in Florida might have been assisted by prevailing winds, vehicle traffic, sod transport, expansion of pastures and increased habitat along highways.
I left Miami on Friday morning around 9 a.m. and by the time I got to Sarasota at noon the front of the Mustang was already very well spotted. The picture above was taken when I got to my destination north of Tampa, and that’s just the windshield. I hosed it off Saturday morning and when I got back to Miami Sunday afternoon my first stop was at the car wash; if you leave the splatter on too long, it will damage the paint.
South Florida has its drawbacks, but being swarmed by insects in the throes of afterglow isn’t one of them. And as a friend noted, sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.