What is the Kissing Bug?
This time of year, love is definitely in the air. Everyone is spending time with that special someone, going on dates, getting to know one another, enjoying each other’s company, and, without a doubt, kissing. But you know what else enjoys a good “kiss”? The Triatominae, also known as the Kissing Bug, is a blood sucking insect that bites, or “kisses” wild and domestic animals and humans around the mouth and eyes as they sleep. The size of these insects ranges between ¾ – 1 ¼ inches and they stalk their sleeping prey at night while the air is cool. Beware the “kiss” of these volatile creatures as they often carry the Chagas Parasite, a tropical disease which causes fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, swelling, enlargement of heart ventricles, enlarged colon and esophagus. These symptoms have been known to persist for up to 30 years and can ultimately result in heart failure. The Kissing Bug transmits the Chagas parasite by biting it’s host and then defecating near the site of the bite.
Precautions to protect oneself from the Kissing Bugs:
Never touch a kissing bug with your bare hands. If you see one, use a glove, plastic, or anything else to move it or kill it to avoid any direct contact with your skin. Should any surface become contaminated from the kissing bug, use a bleach solution to thoroughly clean the surface.
These insects can be found in doors, cracks, and holes of substandard housing. They can also be found outdoors in dog kennels, under cement, near rocks, chicken coops and houses, rodent nests, and in wood or brush piles. They are most commonly found in Southern States in the US, Mexico, South America, and even Argentina.
Insect proofing your home should include: Sealing any cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, crawlspaces, and doors. Remove all brush piles and rocks near the house. Use screens for doors and windows, and if possible, make sure that yard lights are not too close to the house as the bugs are attracted to light. Have pets sleep indoors, especially at night. Keep the house and any resting areas clean and bug free.
Remember, not all creatures that “kiss” you actually like you. You have been warned.