How to Survive Lovebug Seasons in Orlando

Lovebugs on leaf

Lovebug season rolls through the Sunshine State twice each year to the consternation of all Floridians, especially those on the highways. We have a few tips to help you survive lovebug seasons in Orlando with your sanity (and your paint job) intact.

Lovebug on leaf
Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A Lovebug Primer

First, a bit about what lovebugs are and why they can damage the paint on your car. Lovebugs are flies that turn out in full force twice per year in Florida. These flies won’t transmit disease, bite, or sting, but they certainly give love a bad name. Almost plague-like in their numbers, lovebugs can make time outside and driving down the road unbearable.

They may only be a nuisance for humans, but they can do real damage to your car’s paint job. In just one to two days out in the full sun, lovebug remains etch lines in a car’s paint permanently.

Finally, when are lovebug seasons? Lovebug seasons in Florida last for four weeks in April/May and then again for four more weeks in August/September. 

Wash Car- Sponge, Soap, Water
Photo Credit: VintageBlue / Pixabay

Prepare Your Car (and Set Money Aside for the Car Wash)

Whether you’re visiting Walt Disney World, one of Orlando’s many other theme parks, or simply going to and from work, here are a few tips to keep your paint job (and you) safe and ready for the lovebug onslaughts:

1. Wash and wax your car

Apply a sealant or wax to the car after you’ve washed it. This will protect your paint job and make it easier to remove the bugs once they’ve splattered onto the car.

2. Use a bug screen

Bug screens (homemade or store-bought) will prevent these pesky bugs from sticking to the grille and also the inside engine components of the car, such as the radiator. Sometimes lovebugs can even cake important components, such as brake sensors, and cause them to stop working. 

In sum, bug screens can help prevent the cosmetic and functional elements of your vehicle.

3. Use windshield washer fluid

Consider using a windshield washer fluid that is designed to make bug cleanup easier. It may also help keep your windshield clear while driving.

4. Go through the car wash often

Finally, save your pennies and go through the car wash as needed. If you can’t get through the car wash that often, park your car out of the sun. 

If the lovebugs become baked on by the sun, they’ll damage your paint job within one or two days. If you keep your car parked in a shaded environment (parking garage or home garage), you may be able to go longer between washes (and not hurt your paint).

For more about how to remove love bugs from your car, check out our article, “How to Remove Love Bugs from Your Car and Not Hurt the Paint.”

Leave the Insect Repellent at Home

Even though lovebugs won’t sting or bite, they are so annoying that you may wonder whether insect repellents or pesticides will repel them from you and your backyard. The answer is “no.” According to the University of Florida, pesticides and repellents are ineffective because of the lovebugs’ volume and mobility.

family walking in a park
Photo Credit: Vidal Balielo Jr. / Pexels

Plan Outdoor Activities Early or Late but Not In-Between

Want to have that birthday party outdoors without feeling like you’re living through a plague? Plan it before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. If temps are below 84 degrees, even better. 

Lovebugs are most active above 84 degrees and between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

If All Else Fails, Stay Inside or Use a Screened-In Area

Sometimes, an outdoor craft fair in May just isn’t an option. During peak seasons, you may have to take the party inside, onto a screened-in lanai or porch, or postpone an event for a few weeks. 

If you happen to find yourself in an area where lovebugs are swarming, put on your sunglasses, hat, and a mask until you can get through the swarm.

lovebugs sitting on red surface
Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

What is a Lovebug?

Lovebugs, or Plecia nearctica Hardy, fall into the Order Diptera, meaning they are flies, not true bugs (Order Hemiptera). Here’s a short Greek lesson for you:

  • “Di” = two
  • “Ptera” = wings

Conclusion? Insects in the order Diptera have a single set of two wings and are considered true flies, not bugs. 

Stepping out of Greek class, lovebugs (ahem, flies) are black with a conspicuous red area directly behind their heads. Female lovebugs are about one-third of an inch and are larger than males, which ring in at one-quarter of an inch. 

After mating, lovebug moms lay their eggs in moist, decaying organic matter. Adult lovebugs live less than one week, but after mom lays her eggs, the cycle starts all over again.

The eggs last for 2-4 days and then turn into larvae (which look kind of like a brown caterpillar to the untrained eye). Lovebug larvae use the organic matter for food and live for 120 days in the summer (from the eggs laid in April/May) or for 240 days in the winter (from the eggs laid in August/September).

After that long period in the larval stage, they turn into pupae for 7-9 days and then into adults. When this happens, thousands of lovebugs enter into a four-week mating season to lay eggs and then die in less than a week (both female and male lovebugs).

Some Good News About Lovebugs

Let’s look on the bright side, shall we? Here are a few reasons to love lovebugs:

  • Lovebugs give car wash owners a boost in business twice per year.
  • Lovebugs may not appear in full force every year. Larvae survival is affected by soil moisture, adequate food, and ideal soil temperatures. If the conditions aren’t right, many larvae will die and one or both adult lovebug seasons will be affected. So take heart, even though last year was bad, this year may be mild by comparison.
  • If you think you’ve had all you can take of Florida lovebugs, remember this: They don’t bite, sting, transmit disease, or destroy crops. Lovebugs are a nuisance, not a plague.

FAQ About Lovebugs

1. Where did lovebugs come from?

Lovebugs came to the U.S. all on their own from Central America. (Isn’t that lovely?) They were first spotted in Texas in 1940 and continued their way across the Gulf Coast states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia) and were first collected in Florida in 1949. Today, they can also be found in North and South Carolina.

2. Are lovebugs harmful to humans?

Lovebugs don’t bite humans, nor do they sting or transmit disease, unlike many of Florida’s other flying insects. Lovebugs are considered a nuisance pest (as opposed to a destructive one), so they won’t do you any harm other than annoy you and threaten your car’s paint job.

3. Why are lovebugs stuck together?

They’re mating.

4. What are other names for lovebugs?

In addition to lovebugs’ scientific name (Plecia nearctica Hardy), they have a few nicknames, as well, that may be easier to remember:
• Airline bugs
• Honeymoon fly (or bug)
• March flies
• Two-headed bugs (or double-headed bugs)

If you don’t get that loving feeling about mowing your lawn during lovebug season, Pest Gnome’s Orlando pest control pros can give these pests the one-two punch.

Main photo credit: Katja Schulz / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Sarah Bahr

Sarah is a writer who has previously worked in the lawn care industry. In her spare time, she likes to garden, create mosquito traps out of five-gallon buckets, and use chickens for pest control in the backyard.