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Valentines Bug Trivia: Where Do We Get the Term “Love Bug” From?


“She’s such a love bug!” “He’s been bitten by the love bug!” “You are my love bug!”

Everyone has heard of, been called or called someone else a love bug at least once in their life. Have you ever stopped to wonder where the term “love bug” came from?

It turns out that a love bug is a real bug! It’s one of many nicknames for the March Fly, commonly found in warm sub-tropical coastal areas like Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The March Fly has two main breeding seasons (May and September), doesn’t bite people and doesn’t try to come into homes and buildings. Their larvae eat decaying plants and vegetation, which enriches the soil. What’s not to love?

March Flies got the nickname “love bugs” because after mating, they remain connected to each other for several days – even when flying. This clingy behavior and red marking behind the head earned the scandalous insects their signature nickname. But not everyone loves the love bug. Love bugs particularly love certain areas in Florida where they become so plentiful during their breeding seasons that they can clog up air filters and engine components of cars driving on the highway just from the vast amount of them flying around. For people who live in areas that love bugs love, there is little about this insect to be smitten with.

In fact, love bugs are so plentiful in Florida that they even spawned an urban legend still being circulated by school children and the internet in regular cycles. The myth attributes the origin of the love bug to a genetic experiment gone wrong at the University of Florida. The alleged experiment was to use bio-engineering to create a bug that would mate with mosquitoes but not bear offspring, meant to reduce the scourge of mosquitoes in the area. Of course, love bugs have zero attraction to mosquitoes and the story is just a story as love bugs have been around far too long for the legend to be true.

Who knew a simple term of endearment had such fascinating origins?