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Lovebug (Plecia nearctica)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Lovebug

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Constant companions, male and female Lovebugs stick together through thick and thin to ensure a new generation will come.

Updated: 05/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A Lovebug is a type of insect in the Fly family. It is black with a bright red humpback on its thorax. It may appear to be a wasp at first glance, but its very short antennae and lack of a stinger reassures that it is physically harmless. That said, it is considered a real nuisance in the South and Mexico, especially around the Gulf coast, where large swarms of them congregate in order to mate. This often happens over a highway or interstate and drivers smack into hundreds of them, leaving carnage on the grill, hood, headlights and windshields of cars and trucks. Lovebugs are slightly acidic, so their guts may start to eat away at car paint if left on to bake in the summer sun. The longer they are on the car, the worse the damage can get. Cleaning off the mangled bodies of most insects is difficult because they dry onto the surface of the car. Elbow grease, water, soap, and patience are needed to remove them. These mating seasons occur two times a year; three in Florida.

Lovebugs get their name from their mating behavior. Males and females meet as a swarm rises from the ground and join abdomens. They remain connected for hours while fertilization takes place, and are usually found paired like this when seen. One female can lay hundreds of eggs on a pile of decaying plant matter or animal dung. Within a year, larvae are mature and ready to reproduce.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Bibionidae
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          Genus: Plecia
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            Species: nearctica

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Plecia nearctica
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 9mm (0.23" to 0.35")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red
Descriptors: bulge; blister; humpback; connected; stuck together; acid; car paint; highway

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 6mm (0.2in) and 9mm (0.4in)
Lo: 6mm
Md: 7.5mm
Hi: 9mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Lovebug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Lovebug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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