Kissing Bugs

Triatoma spp.
A close-up image of a kissing bug

Kissing bugs are a type of reduviid bug known to suck blood from their victim's face. Kissing bugs are sometimes referred to as conenose bugs, due to their cone-shaped head, or triatomine bugs because they belong to the genus Triatoma. 

Pest Stats

Color

Light brown to black; some species have red, yellow or tan markings on the abdomen

Legs

6

Shape

Oval and elongated

Size

Adults ½”-1” (14-24 mm) long

Antennae

Yes

Region

Various species have been found in the southern Unites States, Mexico, Central America and South America

Habits

Primarily a nocturnal pest, kissing bugs hide during the day and feed on the blood of mammals (including humans), birds and reptiles at night. Feeding typically requires 20-30 minutes, during which time they inject an anesthetizing agent in their saliva, similar to that of bed bugs, so the host is not aware that they are being bitten by a kissing bug. 

Habitat

Kissing bugs are able to enter homes through open windows or tears in screens; however, they usually live in hollow trees inhabited by various small animals, such as raccoons, opossums and wood rats. 

Threats

Kissing bugs occasionally bite humans in their sleep. People with certain skin sensitivities to the bug's saliva may exhibit signs of allergic reactions, such as itching, swelling, redness, etc., but the kissing bug bites typically do not result in a local reaction.

Kissing bugs also carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that causes Chagas disease, a potentially fatal illness that has afflicted millions around the world, especially in Mexico, Central America and South America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 300,000 people in the United States are infected with the parasite. Symptoms of Chagas disease include fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, a rash where the parasite entered the body and swelling around the eyelids. 

If you notice bites or kissing bugs, contact a professional immediately to discuss how to get rid of the infestation through a proper course of pest control.