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Love is in the air, so is fall

Well, it’s not Valentine’s Day, but “love” is definitely in the air, but not for long – fortunately.

By that, I mean the harmless, pesky insects with vibrant red thoraxes most commonly referred to as lovebugs. Dubbed “lovebugs” because of their in-flight mating, the pests pose no threat to the environment or people. They do not bite or sting.

Some years, the persistence of the pests is more noticeable than others: Last year, not so much. However, it looks like this month the swarms of black-winged, slow-flying flies are making up for lost time in Butler County.

The lovebug, Plecia nearctica, is a member of the family of march flies. It is also sometimes referred to as the “honeymoon fly,” “kissingbug” or “double-headed bug.” The adult is a small, flying insect common to parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast.

According to researchers, as larvae, lovebugs are a lot like maggots. The female plants her eggs in moist soil, and when hatched, the larvae consume the detritus that surrounds them. There is only a brief period when these bugs cause problems, and that is when they emerge from their pupal stage as flies when the weather warms up — late spring around May and again in September before temperatures begin to cool.

Even though lovebugs can prove pesky to those individuals working, playing and relaxing outdoors during this time, their claim to fame is being a nuisance to motorists. They make vehicle owners miserable as they become plastered on parts of vehicles’ windshields, bumpers, grilles and hoods during their everyday travels. Fortunately, lovebugs don’t stick around for long, unless you count how long their remains cling to your vehicle. They live long enough to eat nectar, copulate, lay eggs and die. In the meantime, they will hover over cars and open, sunny spaces, blurring windshields and clogging radiators.

However, letting the carcasses “stick” around your vehicle for an extended period of time could cause costly damage. Their acidic bodies can cause damage to vehicle paint if left untouched for a long period. So be sure to clean them off quickly after they die off.

Also, here’s a tip from this motorist. When driving through large swarms of lovebugs that are pelting your windshield, be sure to turn your air conditioning vent to circulate inside the vehicle before using your windshield cleaner. If not, a horrible odor will enter the vehicle from the bugs’ remains.

With that said, the presence of lovebugs can only mean one thing: fall temperatures are nearing. I just hope the pesky insects have vanished before the Butler County Fair kicks off next week, and that the temperatures are just right to enjoy festival food, carnival rides and fun fellowship.

Happy fall, y’all – I hope.