Pest Identification: Kissing Bug
Most Common Types
There are a dozen different types of kissing bugs in the USA, but two of the most populous are Triatoma protracta and T. rubida. These are also known as cone-nose bugs or Mexican bed bugs. Though they may be found across the United States in some small portion, they are most abundant in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and southern California.
What They Look Like
Kissing bugs’ appearance can vary wildly depending on the region in which they’re located and the life stage that they’re currently in. The most present breed, T. rubida, start as small and almost invisible black bugs. Eventually, they molt through their different stages and become an adult. The adult is dark brown and has wings that allow it to maneuver more easily. They are slender in build, but a bit thicker around the middle, and have moderately-sized antennae.
Where They Nest
These bugs are known to nest largely in packrat nests. This not only provides the kissing bug with freedom from other predators, but ensures that they have a steady supply of blood on hand whenever they might require it. However, packrats have been known to prey on these bugs as well, so these nests do not provide kissing bugs complete immunity from danger.
Steps to Prevent
Preventing kissing bugs from finding us can be a bit difficult because they are not only drawn to the light in homes, but also to body warmth and scent of breath from any living being that might pass by. They also feed on any family pets that might be accessible, which can lead to them being transported indoors. However, there are a few steps individuals may take to keep them from entering their home:
- Make sure doors leading to outside spaces are secure and have no cracks. Replacing damaged weather stripping is imperative to preventing these pests.
- Repair any broken screens. This includes windows, vents, crawlspaces, and any other area that may lead outside of the home.
- Caulk and repair any cracks that may have developed in the foundation or spaces around pipes over time. Giving kissing bugs access under your house is as good as inviting them inside.
Are They Harmful?
Kissing bugs are a known vector of Chagas Disease, which is caused by a potentially deadly parasite that could be transferred from bug to human after the blood-drawing process. Many people also experience moderate to severe allergic reactions to the bite of this bug, which can lead to something as simple as irritated skin or anaphylactic shock that requires immediate medical attention.