Lovebugs are common household pests that do not pose any threat to the human population. They do infest areas in swarms when temperatures rise and can cause problems for your home or vehicle. While lovebugs are harmless at their core, they can cause a mess that is smelly and gross.
Lovebug season hits when temperatures rise above 84°F. Mating season runs for about four weeks in May and four weeks in September. While the insects can be seen throughout the summer, there are two generations that occur during the four week time frames.
While lovebugs do not bite humans or pets, they can cause a great deal of damage and odor to affected homes and cars.
Know Your Lovebugs
Knowing how to identify lovebugs is the first step in dealing with their removal. Lovebugs are more common to areas in the Southern portion of the United States. When traveling or residing in these areas, you may notice an increased population during their mating season.
Lovebugs have the appearance of two joined insects. Lovebugs are in a group of insects known as March flies. At this time, there are over 200 kinds of March flies throughout the world. The lovebug is a common nuisance in warmer climates and is active between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day.
When identifying lovebugs, you will notice that they attach themselves to their mate. They fly together, connected end-to-end. To people who are not familiar with the swarming of lovebugs, these insects can swarm a car and cover it from end to end.
Lovebugs share the same characteristics overall:
- They fly in tandem with their mates
- They have black bodies with red thoraxes
- They are 6 to 9 millimeters in length, depending on the sex
Lovebug infestations and swarms occur more frequently on the Gulf Coast and in areas with mostly warm climates. These insects are a nuisance, but do not cause physical harm to humans or pets.
Females are typically larger than males, but when mating, the males will compete for the largest females to aid in reproduction.
Removing Lovebug Infestations
If the home or property is located close to an area that is known for lovebug infestations, it increases the likelihood that the insects will enter into the home. Like many insects, lovebugs enjoy a dark, wet, and humid habitat. In the event that moisture exists in the home in damp areas like basements or storage rooms, it encourages the types of plant growth in which lovebugs like to feed.
Plants surrounding the home can also provide a hefty food source for lovebugs. When looking to lay eggs, the female lovebugs will seek an area that is moist and contains food like mulch or compost beds.
To remove swarms of lovebugs, there exist many remedies, natural and chemical in composition. Chemical sprays can be used to eliminate smaller problems by preventing entry into the home. Chemicals can be used along doorways and window sills to keep these pests from coming inside.
Getting Rid of Lovebugs Naturally
There are many different ways to use natural means to get rid of swarms of lovebugs. While there are no foolproof methods, the ones listed below can provide relief from infestation and can be used as preventive measures:
- Soapy water in a bucket
- Organic spray
- Sprays made from peppermint oils
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus sprays
- Blow them out of the house with a van
- Suck them up in a vacuum cleaner (for larger swarms indoors)
Clearing the suspected infestation area of any standing water can also contribute to the prevention of a lovebug infestation. Plant debris in yards also serves as an enjoyable habitat for lovebugs to mate and lay eggs, so cleaning that up is crucial to the avoidance of swarms.
Preventing Lovebug Damage to Cars
Because of the gases emitted by cars that are similar to Co2 and methane gas, lovebugs are attracted to fast moving vehicles in the day time. These nuisance pests can cause a great deal of damage to the painted exterior of cars, in addition to the clogging of radiators if they fly inside the vehicle. Lovebug swarms can also cause issues with visibility to motorists, so driving at night when possible may be the best method to avoid accidents resulting from swarms.
There are many ways to battle this problem so that the insects do not cause paint damage. One method is to coat the hood and grill area of the vehicle with baby oil so that the swarm does not stick to the paint of the vehicle. Their enzymes are acidic which can lead to damage to the vehicle’s surface.
In addition, even cars that have been coated with wax are subjected to being hit by swarms of lovebugs. Because of this, it is best to rinse or otherwise remove the carcasses of any lovebugs that exist on the surface of the vehicle within two days.
If you are not in a hurry, it might be best drive slowly and take your time. This may help prevent lovebugs from getting splattered on the windshield, hood, or grill of your vehicle.
Lovebug females live for three to six days and most of this time is spent finding a place that is suitable for laying eggs. Lovebug males spend all of their time seeking out the largest and best females for mating purposes. Despite living for less than a week’s time, lovebug females can lay up to one hundred eggs every day.
These March flies are called lovebugs because they live for such a short period of time that they are often seen mating while in flight.
Professional Lovebug Removal
In the case of lovebugs, professional removal may be necessitated by larger swarms. Like any other pest, a professional company may need to come out and assess the severity of the infestation before quoting a cost for removal.
Since most of these flies will be dead in a week, it might be best to forgo the professional removal and wait them out. If an outside infestation or swarm has occurred, it will help you become better prepared in order to prevent future swarms in the same location.
Cost Helper estimates that insects like lovebugs can be removed through general treatments for a cost between $50 and $300. With regular maintenance and natural prevention methods, swarms of lovebugs will steer clear from your home and land.
What to Expect
A professional company may charge a fee to come out and assess the damage caused by swarms of lovebugs in order to determine the costs for removal. It may be a better solution to utilize search engines like Google to determine easier methods that are natural and less expensive in dealing with this problem. There are many natural methods to lovebug prevention and some consist of basic common sense methods. Using citronella candles can keep these insects away, just like any other fly.
Saving Money on Professional Removal
Since lovebugs live long enough to eat, mate, lay eggs, and die, the problem won’t exist for a long period of time. If a swarm is found, you may need to seek out information on the cleaning process to avoid their odor from permeating the home or vehicle that is affected.
Professional lovebug removal can be expensive and may not completely eradicate the lovebug problem. The key to getting rid of these insects is to eliminate any habitats of which the females will use to lay their eggs. Getting rid of leftover debris after yard cleanups and raking leaves away from the property will prevent swarms from sticking around.
Solutions for Cars Affected by Lovebug Swarms
There are several things to do if your vehicle has been affected by a swarm of lovebugs. First, prevention is the best method in helping avoid expensive problems in the future. As such, you should first wax your vehicle prior to the lovebug’s mating season. This may aid in the removal of the lovebugs should they fly and splatter on the surface of the vehicle.
Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover is available as a less expensive solution for the removal of lovebug carcasses. Bug platter sponges also exist to aid in the removal of dead insects from the exterior of vehicles. Another solution is to purchase a screen that can be affixed to the front of the grill in order to keep lovebugs from clogging up radiators. When lovebugs swarm, they can get trapped in the radiator, causing the car to overheat and be inoperable.
For people who have no choice but to drive in the day time hours, it is in your best interest to avoid driving fast, use a wax coating on the vehicle and to remove any lovebug remains if the car is affected by a swarm. This will keep the acidic enzymes present in the insect’s body from causing paint damage.