Lovebug Invasion

Warm weather is settling on east-central Florida with an almost vengeful humidity and along with this change of seasons come Lovebugs swarming everywhere, especially the roadways where they die in incalculable numbers smashed against speeding cars. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences explains the reasons for this carnage on the highway: Lovebugs are attracted to irradiated automobile exhaust fumes (diesel and gasoline) when the ultraviolet light incident over the highway ranges from 0.3 to 0.4 microns (3000 to 4000 angstroms (A)) between 10 AM and 4 PM, with a temperature above 28°C. Hot engines and the vibrations of automobiles apparently contribute to the attraction of lovebugs to highways. Callahan et al. (1985) reported that formaldehyde and heptaldehyde were the two most attractive components of diesel exhaust.

The species spends most of its short adult life as mating pairs like these two individuals at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. The male is at right identified by the large eyes and smaller body while the larger female is at left with a small head and eyes.

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