During the month of February, many people are looking to shower their loved ones with flowers, chocolates, gifts, and romantic gestures – and so are pests!
With a name like “kissing bug,” you might expect this pest to be the official mascot of Valentine’s Day. However, this insect pest is the opposite of Cupid. The kissing bug isn’t as romantic as its name suggests.
Clark, your friendly pest control, mosquito, termite, and grounds care expert, would like to share some information about this insect and why it could be a threat to the health of you and your loved ones.
What is a kissing bug?
Kissing bug is an informal term for a bug named triatominae, in the family reduviidae. It looks somewhat like a flying cockroach, and people may confuse it with a stink bug.
Although different species of these insects vary in size, kissing bugs are generally as large as the tip of your thumb, and they have a long, cone-like nose they use to bite humans on the upper torso and face, usually near the mouth – hence its name.
Kissing bugs usually live outdoors and are often associated with the nests of pack rats and other wildlife. However, they can also be associated with domesticated animals, and can be found in the bedding of outdoor doghouses or chicken coops. In California, the western conenose bug (Triatoma protracta) and conenose bug (T. rubida) can be found in the foothill areas surrounding the Central Valley and in foothills and desert areas of the southern part of the state.
Although these insects are known for biting humans on and around the mouth, they is not one you should try smooching. Kissing bugs carry a parasite known to cause Chagas disease. This illness causes flu-like symptoms and a rash around the area where the parasite entered the body, but sometimes more complicated issues can develop, including cardiac and intestinal problems.
Most people who are bitten by a kissing bug don’t recall the bite, and few show any reaction beyond the body’s typical response to an insect bite –– swelling and redness that goes away in a few days. There’s a classic sign where one eye gets puffy, but not everyone gets that, either.
People with sensitive skin or allergic reactions to the bug’s saliva may exhibit minor symptoms. While kissing bugs can be found in the southern United States, fortunately, cases of Chagas disease is rare. Approximately 300,000 people in the United States are infected with the parasite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Breaking up with kissing bugs
To break up with the kissing bug, make sure to follow good pest prevention practices around your home.
- Vacuum up all visible insects from indoor areas, concentrating on cracks and crevices, drapes, and bedding.
- Seal all cracks and openings into homes as completely as possible. Use weatherstripping, door sweeps, and silicone seal to eliminate small cracks and crevices.
- Screen all windows, doors, and vents.
- Inspect outside for hidden bugs, look beneath flowerpots and outdoor furniture, and any other dark, sheltered places.
- Eliminate harborages including piles of lumber, firewood, and debris around buildings.
- If you have pets, have your pets sleep indoors, especially at night.
- Because these insects fly at night and are attracted to light, change external and porch lights to LED lights that do not emit ultraviolet light to a great extent, so are not attractive to insects.
Contact a pest management professional, like Clark Pest Control, to inspect for and eliminate any rodent nests – the primary spot where kissing bugs live – in and around your home.
Pest solutions from Clark Pest Control
If you are experiencing issues with pests breaking hearts in your home, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.