While kissing bugs may not be your best option for a smooch on Valentine’s Day, it’s important to know what the kissing bug (or triatomine bug) looks like and how dangerous it can be. If you spot one on your property or in your home, this is an issue that you’ll want to take seriously. Kissing bugs can carry a parasite that can make you very sick if it leads to Chagas disease.
Kissing bugs are insects that typically live in the southern and western portions of the United States as well as Mexico, Central America and South America. While they don’t kiss you, they are known for biting humans. Not every bite will result in disease or a reaction, but there are rare instances when kissing bugs can actually cause heart disease or sudden death. If you contract Chagas disease, you can experience symptoms such as swelling, fatigue, fever and body aches.
Kissing bugs often live indoors, and they’re really good at hiding out in small cracks and crevices like underneath your baseboards, in gaps around your cabinets, or underneath the edges of carpet. If you find them outside, they’ll often make their home underneath your porch or deck, under rocks, under cement, in piles of wood or brush or even in the nest of another animal or rodent.
In the United States, there are 11 different species of kissing bugs that are found in the southern states and western portions of the country. This includes some common varieties such as Paratriatoma hirsuta, Triatoma gerstaeckeri, Triatoma incrassata, Triatoma indictiva and Triatoma lecticularia. Most active during the nighttime hours, kissing bugs feed off the blood of mammals, including humans. If they know that there is a mammalian source nearby that they can consistently feed off of, that’s where they’re going to make their home.
As we mentioned earlier, there is the potential for a bite from a kissing bug to lead to infection or Chagas disease. Some kissing bugs carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and the bug must transfer the parasite from their body to the person that they have bitten. The parasite is located in the feces of the kissing bug, so what essentially would need to happen in order for infection to occur, is that feces would need to come into contact with the bite wound or some other open area like the mouth, nose or eyes.
If you’re bitten by a kissing bug that is not currently infected by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, then you don’t have anything to worry about. Some people do have to worry about an allergic reaction caused by a bite from a kissing bug. Around the area of a bite would be redness, inflammation, itchy skin and hives. It’s uncommon for a person to experience anaphylactic shock from a kissing bug bite.
If you spot kissing bugs on your property or in your home, you probably are interested in learning about ways to get rid of them. There are a number of insecticide products that can effectively kill and prevent kissing bugs. Due to the chemical nature of these products, it’s important that you have a professional apply them.
There are other steps that you can take to reduce your risk of a kissing bug infestation in your home or on your property. This includes:
If you suspect that you have a problem with kissing bugs (or any bugs) in your home or on your property, reach out to our team here at PestNowCVA. Located in central Virginia, we are a veteran-owned and operated local business offering professional pest-control services throughout the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Northern Neck areas. When you source your pest control services from PestNowCVA, we make sure that you get the best of both worlds. We provide you with access and support from our nationwide PestNow organization while also providing personalized service from the local Virginians who own and operate our three locations.