Is that a kissing bug or a stink bug?

Feb 9, 2024, 13:26 PM by Fred Speer

No one “loves” bugs more than Clark, California’s friendly pest, mosquito, rodent, and termite prevention and control expert. We have been solving our customers’ pest control problems since 1950. You might say that we have a long-term relationship with all sorts of flying, crawling, and burrowing pests.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Clark Pest Control would like to clear up the difference between two bugs that certainly are not lovable and often are confused with one another: kissing bugs and stink bugs.

What is a kissing bug?

A kissing bug is a type of pest known technically as a type of reduviid bug. These bugs are important public health pests in some parts of the U.S., Central America, and South America. Kissing bugs are known to bite and suck blood from their victims, usually on the face but sometimes other parts of the body. While doing this, they can transmit Chagas disease, also known as “kissing bug disease.”

While it’s considered rare to contract this deadly disease, it is important to look for signs and symptoms. If you are experiencing fatigue, fever, body aches, headaches, a rash, or swelling around the eyelids, you should seek out medical help immediately.

What is a stink bug?

There are many species of stink bugs, but the one that is a pest in homes is an invasive species introduced to the United States from eastern Asia. Stink bugs release an unpleasant odor when disturbed or crushed. The odor is comprised of chemicals sometimes used as food additives and can linger for hours. Stink bugs have no natural predators and can spread quickly.

Unlike kissing bugs, stink bugs do not harm humans directly, and are not known to cause diseases, but they threaten and destroy crops and gardens. They do not cause structural damage or spread diseases.

The difference between kissing bugs and stink bugs

By now it may be clear to you that the kissing bugs and stink bugs are not the same insect. However, both insects share some similarities as well as differences. Notably, kissing bugs and stink bugs are both annoying pests, yet they cause harm in different ways.

Kissing bugs are much more dangerous than stink bugs, due to the way they feed on humans. Unlike kissing bugs, stink bugs are plant feeders and do not bite people. They are also different in appearance – stink bugs are much lighter in color and do not have bright colors present on their bodies. The pests can be similar in size, and both stink bugs and kissing bugs have wings.

You can prevent stink bugs and kissing bugs from getting inside your home in similar ways. Basic preventions include sealing any cracks around:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Utility pipes
  • Behind chimneys

Both pests tend to enter through cracks and crevices, so it’s recommended to use good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk to keep them sealed out.

Kissing bug vs. stink bug characteristics

Kissing bugs typically hide during the day and feed on mammal hosts, including humans, at night. They are silent assailants because they inject an anesthetizing agent via their saliva while feeding. This means that most people do not know when a kissing bug is feeding on them while they sleep.

Stink bugs do not pose a major threat to your health or safety. They often enter structures in the late summer or early fall when temperatures drop. They often reside in the sunny areas of homes to stay warm. Infestation can be identifiable outside by damage done to crops, or inside by finding large quantities of them.

Preventing problems with kissing and stink bugs

While stink bugs do not cause physical harm to humans, they can be annoying. Try to avoid crushing stink bugs, as they will emit an odor. A great method for getting rid of these insects in your home is to sweep or vacuum them up. It’s also recommended that you change your exterior lighting to yellow light bulbs, because they are attracted to lights. When stink bugs appear in large quantities, it’s best to contact a licensed pest management professional to have them removed and identify their entry points.

When it comes to kissing bugs, it is best to remove nesting and eliminate other pests, such as rodents or wildlife, that the kissing bug would want to feed on. It’s also important to keep firewood at least 20 feet from your home.

Call California’s trusted, friendly pest control expert at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at if stink bugs or any other pest has become a nuisance around your home.

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.