Adult kissing bugs range from about ¾ - 1 ¼ inches in length
They are dark colored, usually brown or black. Some species have red, yellow or tan markings on the abdomen.
Triatomine bugs (also called reduviid bugs, "kissing" bugs, cone-nosed bugs, and blood suckers) can live indoors, in cracks and holes of substandard housing, or in a variety of outdoor settings including:
- Beneath porches
- Between rocky structures
- Under cement
- In rock, wood, brush piles, or beneath bark
- In rodent nests or animal burrows
- In outdoor dog houses or kennels
To find shelter kissing bugs need to activate all of its sensory systems, which makes its behavior similar to that of mosquitoes. Kissing bugs are attracted by the heat of human or animal body, exhaled carbon dioxide, infrared odor of lactic acid, certain humidity level. Also, these insects navigate well through the air flow and are beckoned by the bright street lights.
Kissing bugs got their name early in the twentieth century because they are known to draw blood from the face of the Human and animals.
Kissing bugs develop into adults after a series of immature life stages called nymphs, and both nymphs and adults engage in blood feeding behavior. Bugs feed on diverse wild and domestic animals including wild rodents, other wild mammals, and domestic dogs. Kissing bugs transmit the Chagas parasites that cause Chagas disease. The disease is actually contained within their feces (poo) and you will only catch it if the excrement (that has the disease) is placed near an open wound (such as a recent cut or graze), is dropped in your eye (can also be rubbed in with your fingers) or if you swallow it. Some of the symptoms of Chagas disease include:
- Diarrhea (does depend on the person)
- Adverse skin reactions (such as rashes, hives, itching, swelling of glands, etc.)
- Nausea, fainting and shortness of breath (not usually immediate but will manifest after some time has passed)
Kissing bug or Vampire bug Prevention Tips
- Turn off the outside light at night so as not to attract insects into the house, and if this is impossible replace a cold white light the lamp with a yellow one, which is less attractive for the flying insects.
- Replace missing or damaged weather stripping. Repair any damaged screens on all windows, crawlspace vents and attic vents. Caulk around openings for utility lines, plumbing pipes and cables. Repair cracks in the foundation that would allow insects to enter.
- Remove any nests of pack rat (wood rats), squirrels or other wild animals. Get rid of raccoons and other wild pests nearby.
- Check pet bedding often. Inspect pets to be sure they do not have these bugs in their fur.
- Keep on the lookout for their presence (feces, small blood stains, etc.), especially in your living areas.
- To protect your pets, keep them inside as they can also be infected by the Chagas disease if they eat one of these insects.
- Keep your yard free of their hiding areas.Move firewood piles, piles of leaves, garden refuse, etc.and keep away from the house.
- Change porch lights to “bug light” bulbs.
- If you are traveling or live in a region that has a high risk, you can also use things like bed nets to protect yourself from pests.
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