The Korea Herald


Lovebugs swarm cities as summer arrives

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : June 19, 2024 - 14:38

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A swarm of lovebugs on an unidentified person's hand (X) A swarm of lovebugs on an unidentified person's hand (X)

Parts of the Greater Seoul area, which includes Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, have once again come under attack this year by swarms of the newly emerging summer nuisance referred to as "lovebugs," stoking a significant surge in complaints from residents in the area.

First spotted in northwestern Seoul and Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, in 2022, swarms of lovebugs have spread to appear from eastern Seoul, such as Dongdaemun-gu and Seongdong-gu, to Gangseo-gu in the far southwestern area of the city.

Due to their drastic increase over the past two years, the number of complaints submitted to the Seoul municipal government increased 27 percent from 4,418 in 2022 to over 5,600 last year, recent data released by Rep. Yun Young-hee showed.

Unlike in 2022, when complaints were concentrated in northwestern boroughs Eunpyeong-gu, Seodaemun-gu and Mapo-gu, last year's complaints came from all 25 districts. In Gangseo-gu, 207 complaints were submitted last year, after just two complaints the previous year.

Experts believe climate change brought by warming temperatures is responsible for the outbreaks, as insects prefer conditions with higher temperatures and humidity.

As a heat wave has gripped Korea earlier than last summer, lovebugs have been spotted nearly half a month earlier this year. According to the National Institute of Biological Resources, the first observation of lovebugs was recorded on June 15 last year, 13 days later than this year, when they were first spotted on June 2.

"Due to global warming, lovebugs have been appearing in large numbers since three years ago, and there are media reports that the emergence time has been accelerated by 10 days this year," Rep. Yoon said in front of the Seoul public health commissioner. "The problem is expected to become more serious in the future as a major outbreak is predicted to start this weekend and the outbreak area is expected to spread."

Lovebugs are a species of march fly. While their scientific name is plecia nearctica, they attained the nickname "lovebugs" because matured pairs remain together for several days after mating.

Though lovebugs are not toxic or harmful to humans as they do not bite or sting -- instead their larvae act as decomposers in the natural habitat by converting plant materials into nutrients -- they have become a nuisance following invasions of residential areas and local shops, where they tend to stick to clothing and vehicles.