Photo: Joe Courson An early-October frost probably signaled the end of the semiannual plague of lovebugsin south Georgia.”That, and the fact that it’s been five-plus weeks since they started around hereshould pretty much do it for this year,” said Will Hudson, an entomologist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Thequestion now is whether next year will continue the recent trend toward increasingpopulations in south Georgia.”This fall’s swarms of lovebugs were the biggest in years. They couldn’t go away toosoon for motorists. “I’ve traveled all over the country, and that’s the most bugsI’ve ever seen in my life,” said one traveler near Tifton, Ga. Lovebugs’ feeding isn’t a problem. But their mating flights above roadways make them a nuisance. ‘Love’ on the WingLovebugs (Plecia neartictica) are small black and red flies. They have movedfrom Central America into states along the Gulf of Mexico. Getting their name from theircurious nature, lovebugs mate on the fly for about a day out of their two-day adult lives.”They stay coupled, mated for 12 to 15 hours at least,” Hudson said. The femalelays her eggs in the grass along roadsides and in pastures, and then dies.In late April and May, the eggs she laid in September and October hatch with smashingregularity, causing more hate than love among the humans passing by. Hudson said the cycleis something drivers just have to live with. If you sprayed a pesticide to get rid ofthem, he said, “you’d have to spray the entire grassy roadside area every two hoursfor several weeks.”‘Here to Stay’Obviously, getting rid of lovebugs altogether would be impractical, if not impossible,and environmentally unsound. “They’re here to stay,” Hudson said. “They’vemoved into the Southeast, and they like it very well.” Lovebugs aren’t all bad, hesaid. As small worms, they clean up the ground litter, eating a lot of dead leaves.