Where did all the lovebugs go?

Florida bug scientist says pesky pest population is decreasing

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you have lived in Florida for a few years, you have likely encountered lovebugs.

They are known for flying through the sky while “stuck together,” splattering into windshields and front bumpers.

But, if you are new to the state, you may not have noticed them because there are fewer flying around lately.

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Dr. Norman Leppla is a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in the study of bugs.

During a conversation with Tom Sorrells on Talk to Tom, Leppla said, “They (lovebugs) have been declining for years. As you know, years ago, they were just massive numbers, even causing problems on our highways. Now they have slowed down.”

He said they usually come in the spring and fall around May and September with a little variation depending on if you are in the northern or southern part of the state.

But lately, he just hasn’t been seeing them.

“It’s not subtle, they’re really not here this season,” Leppla said.

He said part of it could be influenced by the weather.

“Their development is subject to temperature, humidity. Lovebugs are particularly vulnerable to drying out or to drowning, so they have to find just the right place and maybe this year and in past years, that hasn’t been happening.”

Leppla is also not ruling out pathogens or predation.

He pointed out lovebugs are not the only insects experiencing a decrease in their population. He said the number of pollinators has decreased — as well as of lightning bugs — and the cause is not clear.

But, unlike bees and other pollinators, Dr. Leppla said lovebugs likely will not be missed if they disappear from Florida, as they are not native and instead migrated from the Yucatán.

“They can just go back, and I think most people won’t care,” Leppla said.

You can listen to Talk To Tom in the media player below:

About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 3:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.