Plecia nearctica, the lovebug, is also known as the kissingbug, double-headedbug, or the honeymoon fly. There is a myth that lovebugs were genetically engineered at the University of Florida; this is false. The truth is they migrated from Central America to southeastern United States. The reason for the migration is unknown. They are weak flyers and have only two major flights a year that occur in late spring and then again in the late summer. The altitudes of their flights can reach from 980 feet to 1,480 feet.
Plecia nearctica have smoky colored wings and a red-orange thorax with a velvety appearance. Males are about 1/4 inch long and weigh about 6-10 mg, while f
emales are 1/3 inch long and weigh about 15-25 mg. The weight difference between the two is because of the females’ ovaries which hold 70% of her total protein. Neither are able to store lipids in their fat body cells.
10. 9th abdominal segment and associated
structures in P. americana
11. 9th abdominal segment
and associated structures in P. nearctica
12. 9th tergum of P. americana
13. 9th tergum of P. nearctica
14. 9th sternum with left telomere in P. americana
15. 9th sternum with left telomere in P. nearctica
III. Form and Function:
Lovebug larvae (which have chewing mouth parts) tend to live off decomposing plants and cow manure while the adults feed on the nectar of flowers. Females only live for about 3-4 days while males live a little longer. They only come out during the day while the temperature is above 68Fwhile at night they sleep on low-growing vegetation. During mating, the males hover in the air while the females crawl up the vegetation. The females are grasped by the males either off of the vegetation or during flight. They fall to the ground where they “couple” and at first the male is positioned on the back of the female and they both face the same direction. The male then turns 180° to face the opposite direction. Genitalic engagement takes about 1.5 minutes to 10 minutes. There is great competition for females and hovering males may attempt to disrupt mating pairs. The average eggs per female are about 350 eggs and they lay their eggs in moist dam
p areas. Adult are prey to spiders and cars, while birds are the predators to lovebug larvae.
IV.Impact on Humanity: (Figure 4)
Plecia nearctica do not bite nor transmit any diseases. Their larval stages are beneficial by helping recycling the decaying vegetative matter into organic matter. Adults are considered a nuisance to drivers. Lovebugs are attracted to the formaldehyde that is found in exhaust fumes. They migrate towards intersections, traffic lights, truck stops, and highways because of this. Once they splatter onto the cars, the females do the most damage. This is because they are full of eggs, and the lipids in the eggs bond to the finish of the car and their body fluids are a bit acidic. They also can cause cars to overheat by clogging radiator fans.
V.Journal Article Review
This journal article talks about how lovebugs are back in season. How they are damaging cars, bothering people at the gas pumps, and how uneducated people are about them. People still believe that lovebugs were genetically engineered at the University of Florida to get rid of mosquitoes. This is very untrue and The University of Florida does not take credit for doing so. People also still believe that once the lovebugs are attached, they can never un-attach. But while they do eat away at the car paint, they also eat away at the decaying plant matter.