Here’s why you didn’t see many lovebugs this year

Answer has everything to do with weather

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lovebugs are the ultimate nuisance found in Central Florida. They don’t bite, sting or spread disease, but they can cause big-time issues for drivers as they are often found near highways. Spattered lovebugs can cause damage to the paint of your vehicle if not removed quickly.

These pests typically come out in droves and cover everything twice a year in Florida. The first lovebug season is in the spring, during the months of April and May. A second season normally happens in late summer, in the months of August and September.

This year, however, for most of Central Florida, lovebug season was extremely light.

Lovebug larvae very much need a “Goldilocks” environment to thrive; not too wet, not too dry, but just right. Lovebug larvae, the immature stage of an insect, live in decaying vegetation at the soil surface.

Larvae of the lovebug, Plecia nearctica Hardy. (Photo: James Castner, University of Florida)

According to Dr. Norman Leppla, a professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida, the frequency and amount of rainfall is likely a factor in determining the amount of lovebugs each season.

If the habitat is too wet, they drown. If the environment is too dry, the larvae dries up.

For the year, most of Central Florida is well below normal in the rainfall department.

Tear-to-date rainfall across Central Florida

In the Orlando area this past winter, a rainfall deficit of more than 3 inches was observed. Below normal rain continued through the summer. Not only was it dry, but there were also several extended dry stretches within those time periods.

In 2019 and 2020 in the Orlando area, rainfall was much closer to average through the winter and spring period. In those years, lovebugs emerged in large numbers across Central Florida.

So while there were a few lovebugs earlier this spring and summer, the explosion of the insects was likely capped due to the extremely dry conditions across the region.

About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.