Kissing bugs are a serious problem. If you see one, you need to call a professional pest control company immediately. These pests are often infected with a parasite that can cause humans or the animals they come in contact with to get sick. The parasite, Latin name Trypanosoma cruzi, is a known carrier of Chagas disease.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “The bug generally poops on or near a person while it is feeding on her blood, usually when the person is sleeping. Transmission of the parasite happens when poop is accidentally rubbed into the bite wound or into a mucous membrane (for example, the eye or mouth), and the parasite enters the body.”
The first thing you need to know is, kissing bugs are not love bugs. The reason they are called kissing bugs is they often bite your face to feed.
What Are Kissing Bugs?
Kissing bugs are similar to mosquitos as they feed on the blood of animals, pets and even humans. This insect is wingless, about three-quarters of an inch long and typically a dark brown or black color with red or orange spots along the edges. They are mostly active at night and rest during the daytime.
Other names for kissing bugs include:
- Cone-nosed bugs
- Assassin bugs
- Blood suckers
- Vampire bugs
- Triatomine bugs
Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease
Chagas is an inflammatory disease that starts out with symptoms similar to the flu such as fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, swollen glands, nausea, or vomiting. But if Chagas is not caught in the early stages the infected person can develop long-term heart or digestive problems including difficulty swallowing, stomach pain, irregular heartbeat, or even heart failure.
According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Approximately 8 million people are currently infected by Chagas Disease in the Americas with an estimated 300,000 people in the United States living with the disease.
Tracing and tracking kissing bugs in the United States is an important step to help prevent the further spread of the disease. If you find a bug in your home that you think might be a kissing bug, don’t squish it and place it in the trash! The CDC recommends placing the bug inside a container or sealed plastic bag that can be frozen. Then, when you have the time, take the bug to your local health department or extension service for identification.
Where Are Kissing Bugs Found
Kissing bugs are found throughout the United States especially in the warmer states of Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and even South Carolina and North Carolina. Fortunately, there is a low possibility of getting Chagas disease if you were bitten by a kissing bug. So, while this disease is currently rare in the United States, it’s wise to take precautions against possible kissing bug infestation in your home.
Kissing bugs are nocturnal so having outdoor lights turned on around your home may attract them during the night. They feed off the blood of animals, birds, pets and even humans if given the opportunity. The problem isn’t when they bite you or your pets to feed, as you might not even notice if you were bitten.
How to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs
As mentioned earlier, kissing bugs often defecate after feeding and around 55% of these pests are infected with the Chagas parasite. You could expose yourself to possible infection without even knowing it if you scratch your face, rub your eyes, or touch your nose or mouth after you’ve been bitten.
Here are a few suggestions for making your home less attractive to kissing bugs and other pests:
- Removing wood, brush and debris piles
- Repairing tears in window and door screens
- Turning off outdoor lights that are close to your home
- Keeping outdoor pet areas clean and tidy
- Sealing and insulating any cracks, gaps, or spaces around doors, walls and windows
Once a pest invades your home or gardens a professional pest control company like Thomas Pest Control is your best bet. Our friendly staff of technicians will select the best solution to help control the problem. This can include things like perimeter spraying and removing any potential animal nesting sites.