Kissing Bugs

Facts, Identification, & Control

Latin Name

Triatoma spp. and Paratriatoma spp.

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

Kissing Bug Illustration
Kissing Bug Illustration

  • Size: Kissing bugs can be 14 to 24 mm long.
  • Characteristics: These pests are commonly called conenose bugs from their cone shaped heads.
  • Coloring: They are dark colored, usually brown or black. Some species have red, yellow, or tan markings on the abdomen.

How Did I Get Kissing Bugs?

Bright porch and doorway lighting often lures kissing bugs inside homes. These insects feed on pets, so outdoor cats or dogs can also bring bugs inside.

How Do They Get Inside?
Kissing bugs can enter your home through:

  • Crawl spaces
  • Exposed cracks
  • Gaps around patio doors
  • Open chimney flues
  • Windows

How Serious Are Kissing Bugs?

Do They Bite?
Bites from kissing bugs are not usually serious and cause only mild pain and redness. These blood-feeding insects may target both humans and animals. Kissing bugs feed at night and their bites usually go unnoticed until the person bitten wakes up from their sleep.

Most people who have been bitten by these bugs were not aware of the bite and had little or no reaction. A small percent of people have an allergic reaction to the saliva of the bugs. These sensitive people have experienced itching, swelling, and other allergic symptoms.

Are They Dangerous?
Conenose bugs can carry the protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi, also called Chagas disease, through its feces. If the person rubs the feces into a break in the skin, he or she could become infected. Scratching the insect bite can introduce the feces into the body.

There have been very few cases of Chagas disease in the United States. Reports of the disease in Mexico or Central America cause concern in the southwestern United States.

Signs of Infestation

Kissing bugs are secretive and are not likely to be seen in the open during the day. They sometimes fly to lights at night. The only other signs would be their bites, but there are many other sources that can result in similar skin inflammation. A physician would need to be consulted to determine the cause of body signs.

How Do I Get Rid of Kissing Bugs?

What You Can Do
Some procedures to prevent kissing bugs include the following:

  • Caulk around openings for utility lines, plumbing pipes, and cables.
  • Change porch lights to “bug light” bulbs.
  • Close exterior doors tightly.
  • Inspect pets for these bugs in their fur.
  • Move firewood piles away from the house.
  • Repair any damaged screens on all windows, crawlspace vents, and attic vents.
  • Repair cracks in foundation that would allow insects to enter.
  • Replace missing or damaged weather stripping.

What Orkin Does
Insecticide applications on the outside property can help keep kissing bugs from entering the home. Your local pest control professional can select the appropriate insecticides according to the situation. Your technician may also remove any animal nesting sites that may attract these bugs.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep kissing bugs in their place, out of your home, or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Where Do They Live?
Kissing bugs live in many states across the country. They sometimes invade homes, especially in suburban and rural areas.

What Do They Eat?
Kissing bugs got their name early in the twentieth century because they are known to draw blood from the face of the victim. These bugs feed on blood from mammals such as:

Life Cycle
The female bug lays eggs in the spring. The immature bugs (nymphs) need a blood meal every time they shed their skin and grow larger.

More Information