Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Orlando and Lovebugs


I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Orlando...visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and had some Butterbeer (cream soda with butterscotch and vanilla); got soaked on the Popeye river raft ride; and fed the dolphins at SeaWorld!

The weather was warm and humid (about 90 degrees in late September) and I admit that I wondered if I'd find any interesting insects while in FL. I never can stray too far from my entomological fascination :-) I wasn't disappointed! When we landed, my friends and I were immediately struck when we looked out the plane window and saw millions of what looked like some kind of hemiptera flying around and also appearing on all the windows at the airport. It was an invasion! Intrigued (well, at least I was!), my friends and I quizzed the locals, who informed us that these pesky insects were "lovebugs" and that their nuisance expands beyond their large, annoying numbers to actually damaging property...the paint on cars! Motorists are encouraged to wash their cars soon after running through lovebug infested areas as these little pests can literally ruin car paint if left too long.

Of course upon my return from FL I read a bit about lovebugs and found out they are actually flies rather than true bugs and that they have mating flights twice a year, one being...ta da...August and September. Luckily they do not bite or sting, but definitely cause a mess for cars, planes, and people who may be in their way. Read more about these pests at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/MG/MG06800.pdf and http://www.floridaenvironment.com/programs/fe00508.htm. Apparently there are a lot of predators that eat the larvae and help keep the population down. The larvae don't actually cause much of a problem (and in fact can aid in some plant growth), but the less larvae there are, the less adults that can cause a mess! A little bit of biological control IPM going on there!!

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