In this Pest Profile series, we're highlighting the Kissing Bug. With such an innocent name, you’d think the kissing bug would be the unofficial mascot of Valentine’s Day. However, the insect, which is named for its habit of biting humans on and around the lips, is in no way connected to Cupid’s holiday. In fact, the disease spreading bug has a page on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website and also has an entire research community dedicated to studying its habits at Texas A&M University.
Where They Live:
Kissing bugs are typically found in the southern United States, Central America, South America, and Mexico. In North Carolina, there are at least two species of kissing bugs native to our state. Kissing bugs are primarily nocturnal pests and hide during the day. They can be found under cement, beneath porches, in outdoor dog houses, or rodent nests.
What They Look Like:
Kissing bugs are about one inch long and are generally brown or black with a red, yellow, or brown mark on the stomach. They appear flattened and have very thin legs. They also have a defined spine on their back. Kissing bugs hatch from small eggs and can live up to two years.
What They Eat:
All kissing bugs feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles and usually eat at night. Unlike ticks, they do not attach to feed.
What Happens When They Bite:
Similar to bed bugs, you won’t feel anything if a kissing bug ends up biting you. They tend to bite people on the skin near their eyes or mouth while they’re sleeping. Some people may experience swelling, redness, and itchiness after being bitten. Unfortunately, when they bite, the bugs also defecate at the site of the bite. If a person scratches or rubs their face, the feces can enter the wound.
Researchers at Texas A&M have found that about 55% of the kissing bugs are infected with the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, that causes Chagas disease. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, a rash, and swelling around your eyes. These symptoms are easily treatable, but in some cases, serious complications can develop. The good news is that Chagas cases are extremely rare in the United States. People who live or have lived in parts of Central America and South America are at higher risk of having Chagas disease.
How to Prevent Kissing Bugs:
The best way to prevent yourself from being bitten is to prevent kissing bugs from entering your home. Make sure to seal cracks and holes, replace weather-stripping where needed, prevent gaps under doors, don’t stack firewood close to your house, and turn off outside lights at night.
Having a quarterly pest control service agreement with Pestech of Greenville can also help. With our routine prevention services, we are able to protect the barrier of your home to keep pests from entering.
What to Do If You Find One:
If you find a kissing bug in your home, don't squash it and don't touch it with your bare hands. Researchers have found that their bodies may have the T. cruzi parasite on them which could spread to you if touched. Instead, put on a glove or use a plastic bag to put the bug in a closed plastic bag, jar, or container. Once you've done that, call us here at Pestech of Greenville and let us know what you’ve found. We can give further instruction from there.
If you suspect kissing bugs may be in or around your home, but aren’t completely sure, you should still contact our team immediately. In addition to pest prevention services, we are fully licensed and equipped to remove pests of any kind, including kissing bugs. Our extermination methods are fast, effective, and efficient while keeping you and your family safe.
Our friendly and knowledgeable team of East Coast extermination professionals is standing by to assist you. Give our office a call to learn more about our services: 252-353-4760