Recently, a parasite commonly referred to as the 'kissing bug,' has been making its way into people's homes and wreaking a bit of havoc. The kissing bug may sound cute, but this triatomine insect is known to carry a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi that causes Chagas disease. Learn more about this pesky critter and why you don't want to see it in your home!
1. Kissing Bug Appearance
There are eleven species of the kissing bug found in the US. The most common kissing bugs tend to reach ½-1 inch long and have dark black or brown coloring.
2. Kissing Bug Habitat
Triatomine (kissing) bugs mostly live outdoors, though they do make their way into our homes as well. They prefer to live in cracks or holes, beneath porches, under cement, between rocky structures, rocks, brush, or wood piles and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these bugs are typically found in southern Unites States, Central America, South America, Mexico, and even as far as southern Argentina. The map provided below from the CDC showcases which areas have reported these critters and which may see them next.
3. Kissing Bug Diet
Triatomines are mainly nocturnal pests which feed on the blood of mammals, reptiles and birds. These bugs live in close proximity to their blood host and rely on various sensory systems to locate these hosts. Kissing bugs are very sensitive to carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals (including humans), which is how the insects find their food.
4. Kissing Bug Lifespan
The lifespan of the kissing bug is approximately one year in the United States with the southern species living even longer.
5. Kissing Bugs and our Homes
Since most individuals homes and other structures in the United States are built with plastered walls and sealed entry points, it is difficult for these pests to make their way indoors. However, if they have entered your home, common places to find them would be near pet beds/resting areas, locations with rodent infestations, and in bedrooms near the bed or nightstands.
6. Kissing Bug Bites
According to the US National Library of Medicine, there is quite a bit of misinformation regarding kissing bug bites. Early accounts of kissing bug bites state that the bite was extremely painful and even dangerous. However, this theory was largely proven incorrect since most patients admitted to the emergency room due to kissing bug bites were unaware that they were even bitten.
7. Kissing Bug Symptoms
Kissing bug bites tend to happen at night while individuals are sleeping and lead to small, raised skin lesions that swell. The swelling tissue from the bite may last up to seven days with severe reactions lasting up to a month. Additionally, those who experience severe reactions wake in the middle of the night after being bitten with an intense feeling of itchiness and difficulty breathing.
8. Kissing Bug and Chagas Disease
Since home ranges of kissing bugs in the United States are expanding, many believe there will be an increased number of Chagas disease cases. Though you can get Chagas disease from triatomines, there need to be several operative factors for a human in the US to acquire the disease.
9. Kissing Bug Treatment
If you believe you have been bitten by a kissing bug and are having a reaction, it is crucial to contact your health professional immediately.
10. Kissing Bug Infestation
If you have notice that an infestation has occurred or are looking to prevent this from happening to your home, it is crucial to contact a pest professional rather than trying to take care of it by yourself. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you keep these pests out of your home or business. Precautions may include:
- Sealing any cracks around walls, windows, doors or roofs.
- Removing wood, brush, and rock that is near your home.
- Use screens on any windows or doors and repair any holes that may currently be on your doors or windows.
- Seal cracks in the attic or any crawlspaces.
- Have your pets sleep indoors.
- Keep your pet's space clean.
Des Moines Kissing Bug Removal
Do you think you may have triatomine (kissing) bugs around your home or business? If so, contact Preferred Pest today for assistance. You can schedule an appointment online or call us at (515)276-7277.