It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of bugs! Remember this post: http://familosinsweethomealabama.blogspot.com/2007/07/its-bugs-life.html As summer comes to an end and fall approaches, I find myself looking forward to a few less pests. Wishful thinking I suppose as September is apparently “Love Bug” Season.
After conducting a little research, I discovered that love bugs are not bugs at all but rather small black flies with red thoraxes called Plecia nearctica. “Upon reaching maturity the love bug spends the entirety of its life copulating with its mate, hence its romantic name. The male and female attach themselves at the rear of the abdomen and remain that way at all times, even in flight. In fact, after mating, the male dies and is dragged around by the female until she lays her eggs (Wikipedia).”
“Copulatory behavior begins with the male darting and grasping a female that is flying through the swarm. The pair falls to the ground where they couple. Initially the male is positioned on the back of the female and both sexes face the same direction. After coupling, the male turns 180° and faces the opposite direction (Denmark, H.A. and Mead, F.W.).” As one might imagine there is intense competition among males for females at emergence sites. Just like a typical male, the male love bugs fight for one last fatal fling with the sex goddess. I guess if you have to go, this way is better than most!
“Although their behavior and their common name may be amusing, their presence in such large numbers can be somewhat of a nuisance. Cars driving through these aerial orgies become spattered with these loving bugs. As a result, radiator fins may become clogged causing cars to over-heat. Insects spattered on the windshields (click here for picture) can obscure vision, and if the dead insects are not cleaned off, they can ruin the car's finish” due to their highly acidic body chemistry (Drees, Bastiaan).
I can attest to the danger of driving through swarms of love bugs. I was driving home from Dothan late one afternoon last week and it appeared as though it were raining love bugs. As the suicidal pairs of love bugs splattered their love potion all over my windshield, not even my washer fluid could touch, let alone remove, the remains of this potent love juice. I drove home through the smeared streaks of what looked like some concoction of Love Potion Number 9.
Urban legend has it that these overly amorous bugs were the result of a genetic experiment to rid the world of mosquitos gone wrong. Acording to Snopes.com, this legend is false. See for yourself: http://www.snopes.com/critters/lurkers/lovebugs.asp. They apparently migrated from Central America and now swarm the Gulfcoast region twice a year, first in late spring, then again in late summer for a period of 4 to 5 weeks.
Yet another reason to love Lower Alabama or LA, as it is so cleverly called. Not only do I have deal with these pesky, sex-crazed critters during what is normally my favorite time of year, I have to scrape them off of my windshield after an afternoon drive and explain to my five-year-old son why they are, um, connected together. Rather than explain that these bugs are “copulating”, as one source claims, and that the female is such a sex goddess that she kills her mate with her sexual prowess and then drags him around for good measure, I simply tell him that they are two-headed bugs!!! :)