love bug

I moved to Texas last August, and this spring I’ve been subject to two assaults. The first is by allergies, which I’ve experienced in more temperate climes, but which are especially bad in the Texas spring when everything is in bloom. The other is by swarms of Plecia nearctica, commonly known as the love bug.

Love bugs are common in Texas and all along the Gulf Coast of the United States. Originally from Central America, they were first recorded in the United States in the 1930s and have been moving northward, now found as far north as North Carolina.

The love bug so called because it is most commonly seen when the insects are copulating, which is pretty much continuously during their short lifespans, appearing as two-headed bugs floating lazily through the air. They don’t bite and are really only a nuisance because they are so numerous, blackening car hoods and windshields, although their body chemistry is acidic and can damage the paint on older cars if not cleaned off quickly.

The name love bug is recorded as early as 1937. They’re also known as honeymoon flies and fuck bugs. The origin of these names is rather obvious. The name telephone bug is a bit more mysterious, but is perhaps because, with their black color, they bear a vague resemblance to an old-time telephone.

Dictionary of American Regional English, online edition 2013, s. v. love bug n, honeymoon fly n, fuck bug n, telephone bug n.

Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, June 2008, s. v. love, n.1.

Wikipedia, “Lovebug,” accessed 25 April 2017.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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