Bugs get no love in Pike County

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 17, 2012

The Pike County Extension Service on Three Notch Street gets lots of calls about all sorts of pests, garden critters and plants, but during May and September, many questions are about a fly who has been sung about by both Jimmy Dorsey and the Jonas Brothers.

“They are everywhere,” said Pike County Extension Coordinator Grant Lyons. “Lovebugs come out for a couple of weeks while they mate and they are everywhere.”

The autumn swarm of lovebugs is usually larger than the spring one and can last up to a month. They don’t sting and aren’t poisonous, but they can be a real nuisance to drivers.

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“One of the main questions we get asked is if they really take the paint off your car,” said Lyons.

The answer is “yes.”

Lovebugs that splatter on cars and are exposed to sunlight will turn acidic within about 24 hours, according to information provided by the Extension Service. Also, lovebugs can cause radiations to clog and overheat.

“The best thing to do is just rinse it off,” Lyons said. “Wax and netting could help, but could be costly.”

Lovebugs are a type of fly that lay eggs in moist habitats, such as ditches and swampy areas high in organic matter. The larvae live on decomposing organic matter in the soil. Flies are attracted to open or semi-open areas such, such as roadways and ditches, and can also be found in wooded areas.

Not much scientific research has been put into lovebugs, according to the Extension Office, because the flies have a minimal economic impact. However, some have noted that the flies seem to be attracted to gasoline and car exhaust. And, lovebugs do not respond to insect repellents containing DEET or citronella.

An interesting tidbit about lovebugs, Lyons shared, is that females are larger than males and it is part of their mating habit for the female to fly, dragging the mail.

“There isn’t an excellent control method,” Lyons said. “They really don’t harm you. But they can be an inconvenience.”