GAINESVILLE, Fla. (FOX 13) - The bugs Floridians love to hate are back. Lovebugs are known to travel solo or stuck to their partner -- and seemingly never fail to leave small blotches of bug guts when they fall victim to our vehicles.
Twice a year, we see them in swarms -- in late April or early May, and late August and early September, explained FOX 13's meteorologist Dave Osterberg.
Some people have blamed the scientists at the University of Florida as the creators of the lovebug, but that is a myth. Those bugs are not native to Florida at all.
"Contrary to popular belief, the University of Florida did not introduce the love bug to the state," according to the school's website.
Lovebugs originated from Central America. They migrated through Texas and Louisiana before making their way to Florida. Now, they are expanding, and can be found as far north as South Carolina.
But for some reason, it seems they love Florida the most. They are attracted to heat and decomposing plant debris. UF scientists said lovebugs could confuse those odors with chemical in exhaust fumes, which is probably why we see so many of them around highways.
They are more active between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and when temperatures are above 84 degrees. The males swarm first and eventually find the females, which is why they are together, Osterberg explained. The males don't let go. They hang onto the females because they don't want another male to fertilize the female.
They are harmless to humans, but are a nuisance. They are very acidic. If you leave them on your vehicles, that acid can literally eat away at your paint. You have to get them off sooner than later.
Lovebugs feed on decaying vegetation.
"They do help out in the environment," Osterberg said. "They're not useless. They're here for a reason. They are a nuisance to us, but they don't bother us. They don't bite. They don't sting."
"But don't eat them, though," he added. "Because they taste very bitter...anybody for a love bug and cheese sandwich?"