These little bugs want to give you a kiss, but don’t let the cute name fool you… kissing bugs are becoming a major health concern. Once mostly confined to Central and South America, kissing bugs have made their way north to Mexico, Texas, and now Oklahoma. Learn how to avoid these puckering pests and what to do if you find them.
What’s in a name?
The kissing bug (also known as the triatomine bug) got its nickname because it likes to feed on the blood of humans and animals, usually biting them in the lip area. Kissing bugs like to hide in cracks, brush, rocks, and even bedding. They usually keep out of sight during the day, but come out at night. They are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide, so they commonly bite near the mouths of sleeping people or pets.
Are kissing bugs dangerous?
Like mosquitoes, kissing bugs transmit blood-borne diseases to those that they bite. If a kissing bug is infected with a parasite (trypanasoma cruzi) and defecates in the wound, it can transmit Chagas disease to unsuspecting victims. Although not usually life threatening, Chagas disease can be fatal if not treated properly. Symptoms of Chagas disease include fever, fatigue, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, and in extreme cases heart failure and intestinal damage. There are over 300,000 people with trypanosoma cruzi infection in the United States, but most cases were contracted outside of the states. Worldwide, Chagas disease affects as many as 12 million people. While kissing bugs are not a huge cause for concern in the U.S., they are garnering more and more attention in recent years. It is important to protect yourself today and help control their spread.
How do you identify a kissing bug?
Kissing bugs are usually smaller than an inch long and completely flat until after they have fed and are swollen with blood. They are dark brown or black with orange (or even red) markings. They also have a long extended mouth. If you think you have found a kissing bug, do not touch it with your bare hands as they can spread disease. Instead, it is recommended that you trap it in a glass jar and either freeze it in water or drown in in rubbing alcohol. You can then take it to the nearest government health department for proper identification.
How do you prevent kissing bugs?
Prevention is the best method for dealing with kissing bugs. Keep bugs from entering your home by sealing all cracks and gaps in your windows, walls, roofs, doors, and screens. It is also a good idea to keep your yard clean and debris free. Remove old wood, brush, and rocks from near the house. You should also check around your pet’s bedding for any signs of the insect’s activity including: small white or light pink eggs, black droppings, or small blood stains. Lastly, you can turn off outdoor lights that tend to attract the bugs. If you think you have kissing bugs around your home, proper pest control treatments can take care of the problem and prevent any adverse health problems. Call Midwest Pest Control today, and we can make sure that no dangerous bugs are kissing you or your family.
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triatoma