Facts about the kissing bug

10 Things to Know About the Kissing Bug

February 13, 2018

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, or sometimes called the kissing bug 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 3/4 to 1 inch long and have dark black or brown coloring.

2. Kissing Bug Habitat

Triatomine (kissing) bugs mostly live outdoors, but 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, wood piles and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these bugs are typically found in the southern United 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 in the U.S. and which may see them next.

Kissing Bug Locations

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 kissing bug lives approximately one year in the United States with the southern species living even longer.

5. Kissing Bugs and our Homes

Since most homes and buildings 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 a potentially deadly kissing bug has entered your home, common places to find them are 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 claim the bite was extremely painful and even dangerous. However, this theory of a painful bite was largely proven incorrect. Most patients admitted to the emergency room due to kissing bug bites were unaware 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 swollen kissing bug bite mark may last up to seven days with severe reactions lasting up to a month. Those who experience severe reactions for kissing bug bites report waking in the middle of the night with an intense feeling of itchiness and difficulty breathing.

8. Kissing Bug and Chagas Disease

Since 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 U.S. to acquire the kissing bug 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 noticed an infestation or are looking to prevent this from happening to your home, contact a pest professional rather than trying to take care of it by yourself. Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you keep the deadly kissing bug out of your home or business:

  • Seal any cracks around walls, windows, doors or roofs.
  • Remove 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.


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