The Kissing Bug
Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Cole Home Maintenance is an exterminator Located
in Palatine and serving towns in
Lake County, Cook County, Mc
Henry County, Du Page County, Kane County
$60.00 to spray up to a 2 bedroom apt for bed bugs
The Kissing Bug is the common name for a conenose that bites victims
on the face and near the mouth in order to suck blood for a
This bug is attracted to the carbon dioxide expelled by the victim
while breathing. It is also called the "Mexican Bed
"Wallapai Tier", "Cone-Nosed
bed Bug", the "China Bed Bug",
Bug", and in Latin America they are known as "Vichucas".
their victims by the carbon
dioxide of the victim's breath, bed bugs will feast on any part of
their victim's body and as is currently known, do not transmit any
diseases or parasites.
The Kissing Bug prefers to bite its sleeping victim near its mouth;
thus the common name "Kissing Bug".
when refering to the Kissing Bug as
well as the bed bug but neither has actual mouthparts that
"bite". They each have "sucking mouthparts", that first pierce
the skin, insert a tube and "suck" your blood. The Kissing Bug
prefers to position itself next to its victim rather than walk on
victim's bare skin, leaving only the long proboscis (sucking
in contact with the victim's skin.
The Kissing Bug is widely found in Central and South America but has
been discovered in 2/3 of the southwestern states in recent
years. While this bug is not considered a common, widely
bug, it is serious when discovered inside the apartment or home
it carries a parasite that causes the Chagas disease.
the southwwestern part of the U.S. where
it is warm and does not have severe winters as we do here in
It appears that the strains of the Kissing Bug found in Central and
South America are much more virulent than those Kissing Bugs found
the southwsestern parts of the U.S.
Chagas Disease Spread?
Chagas disease is an infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma
cruzi. It is named after Carlos Chagas, a Brazilian physician
first described it in 1909. The famous 19th
biologist Charles Darwin was attacked by what he described as a
black bug of the Pampas" while he was in South America when he was
young. Darwin suffered the classic symptoms of the Chagas
later in life.
It is estimated that 16 to 18 million people in Central and South
America are infected with Chagas disease and 50,000 are dying each
of this disease. This bug spreads the Chagas disease by first
biting an infected person or animal and processing this parasite
through its body and into its feces. The bug then
goes on to bite other people. While feeding by sucking blood,
Kissing Bug deposits its feces on the sleeping victim's
skin. Because the Kissing Bug prefers to bite its victim on
mouth, near the eyes and nose, the victim rubs that
into his skin when scratching the bitten area, rubbing feces
an open cut or into his eyes, nose or mouth while asleep. The
Kissing Bug prefers to bite the victim's face because it is
to the odors mammals give off from skin, hair and various glands and
especially the carbon dioxide expelled by the victim's nose and
This rubbing and scratching causes the parasite to enter the
broken skin and cause an infection. Other
of transmission include:
Recently in Brazil, health officials found a widespread outbreak
Chagas' disease was spread through contaminated food. "Guarapa"
cane juice and is usually consumed
fresh. Twenty-five (25) people became ill and three (3)
died. Reports were issued throughout the world health
organizations to warn that anybody who vacationed on the beaches of
Brazil should see a doctor. The source was traced to a single
site in Brazil that used sugar cane contaminated with the Kissing
and tables in infested homes
and if food is prepared on these dirty surfaces, the food
contaminated with the parasite found in the bug's feces and
by house-hold members.
- Household pets become
infected by eating food contaminated by the feces of
this bug as
it walked over their food.
transfusion from a person who has Chagas
Blood supplies from foreign countries may not be screened for
- Transmitted from mother to child at birth.
In this one situation, the effects of the infection were felt within
days. The Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases
doctors to be aware that a patient may have been bitten by the
Kissing Bug. People who are sensitive to the
can have a severe allergic reaction that is as serious as any bee
by people who are sensitized to a bee sting.
Victims felt as if they had the flu including a fever, headache,
aches, vomiting and a mild rash. Most of the time it takes
for the victim to know they are infected and by that time, there is
extensive damage done to the body. In the meantime, if the
Kissing Bug bites these infected people, it will spread the parasite
newly bitten people.
When the Kissing Bug is discovered in your home or apartment:
- Be sure to take measures to eradicate it immediately
- Keep the food preparation areas very clean
- Do not allow food in pet dishes to remain after your pet has
eaten its food
- Remove food tightly sealed containers and put down more food
your pet at its next meal
- The Kissing Bug will not bite through clothing or sheets, so
sure to wear long sleeved and long pants to bed
- Shake all sheets and blankets to be sure the Kissing Bug is
hiding in them before you get into your bed
The symptoms of Chagas disease is usually mild or nonexistent.
Many people are infected in their home countries as children.
One-third of persons who get the infection live for 10 to 20 years
not realizing they are lving with a chronic infection. While
there are drugs that will eliminate the infection in the veryearly
stage, the drugs are not effective at curing the damage that has
already been done over the years.
Two drugs, Benzonidazol made by Roche and Nifurtimox, made by Bayer
on the market but are only effective in the early acute stage.
Once the infection goes into the chronic stage, the drugs are
ineffective. The Chagas disease happens so infrequently in the
U.S. that doctors are not accustomed to recognizing the early stage
symptoms since they are so similar to the flu or food
poisoning. Bite marks may be attributed to a spider or tick
since the Kissing Bug is so rare in the U.S.
the population eperiences acute symptoms. The initial
symptoms are short lived and most infected people do not seek
treatment. The symptoms are not specific for a Chagas
infection. They include fatigue, fever and swollen lymph
loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. In a small amount of
population the victim will suffer an acute anaphylactic
(allergic) reaction, with weakness, sweating, nausea, abominal
and vascular collapse. Testing in countries where the Kissing
is common found that about 7% of the people tested have the
for developing serious, immediate sensitivity reactions
In most people, the symptoms dissipate after a few weeks and the
victims think that they had a mild case of food poisoning or a
touch of the flu. The victim no longer has any symptoms and it
progresses into a chronic, undetected disease. Ten (10) to
(20) years later, the damage is done and the person starts to
experience altered heart rate or rhythm, heart failure or
arest, or the doctor discovers they have an enlarged heart. At
this point, drugs cannot repair the damage. It has been silent
for too many years.
Adults are 1/2 inch to 1 inch, brownish-black with a broad, flat
body with 6 reddish-orange or yellow spots on each side ofhe
both above and below. The head has 4 segmented antennae and a
segmented beak what extend backward below the body. It has an
elongated, cone-shaped head from whch it gets its name -- the "Conenose
home has been invaded is when
the victim awakens in the morning and finds engorged bugs in bed
The Kissing Bug is a strong flyer and is attracted to the lights
of a building. Once they fly in through an open door or
the Kissing Bug immediately finds a dark corner closet area or hide
under furniture, or their favorite place -- under and betwen
and blankets. The Kissing Bug finds a host (victim) by
the carbon dioxide by a mammal breath, and the secretions from the
glands and sweat from the person who had slept in that bed.
The Kissing Bug wants to feed and suck blood very close
the sleping victim's mouth and nose because it is especially
to the carbon dioxide being expelled . The Kissing Bug will
bite through clothing or beding sheets and blankets. It needs
direct contact with the victim's skin.
The victim (host) does not feel the bite becaue the Kissing Bug has
anesthetic in its salivia. Your household pet is often the
these bugs. The Kissing Bug also deposit feces on the host's
as it feeds. The victim usually rubs the area of the bite, and
rubs the feces into the mouth, eyes and any open cuts or abrasions
from scratching the itching area causing the parasites in the
bug's feces to enter the host's body.
The face is not the only place this bug will bite. The small
bites will usually disappear in 24 to 48 hours but larger bites can
remain for a week. The bitten area will appear with a
redness on the skin area, intense itching and/or swelling or itching
the extremities such as the soles of the feet or the palms of the
hands. There may be patches of itchy bites around your
mouth. The bites may swell and look like hives.
Home treatment can help stop the
and prevent an infection:
- Wash the bites with soap to lower the chance of infection
- Do not scratch or rub the bitten area
- Use an ice pack to stop the swelling
- Apply an antisceptic to the area
- Contact a doctor to obtain a blood test for the presence of
antibodies or parasites
Bug Life Cycle
The Kissing Bug usually lives in the holes of pack rats feeding on
or other outside mammals who burrow in the ground. They also
infect raccoons. The Kissing Bugs are very good flyers that
attracted to the lights on the outside of the house and light coming
from windows. They will fly through the doorways and windows
that do not have screens to block them. Once inside the
apartment or home, they will find a place to hide until they
find a meal of blood from household pets or sleeping people.
The Kissing Bus usually sucks your blood for 15 minutes to 30
minutes. The Kissing Bug takes up to 1 week to digest your
blood. This bug will not need to feed again for about 3 weeks
a source of food is not available after it digests its meal.
bugs are capable of surviving for 3 to 6 months between meals if a
blood meal source is scarce.
The Kissing Bug's life cycle lasts about one (1) year, with
Kissing Bug hatching from the oval, pearly-white egg into a
that goes through 5 molts to reach the adult stage. Each molt
will only take place after a blood meal. A molt is when the
insect sheds its exo-skeleton, and grows a larger exo-skeleton that
Eggs are usually laid from May to September and hatch in 3 to 5
to release the first of the five (5) nymph stages. Each molt
stage can only take place after a blood meal. The Kissing Bug
over-winters as a nymph and molts into adults in the spring.
Adults can fly and are long-lived.
In the U.S. Kissing Bugs spend the greater part of their lives in
holes of pack rats -- not inside an apartment or home. They
on the mammals that live in holes in the ground, biting them
blood meal. They also live and bite racoons and other
animals. It is only in the summer that Kissing Bugs, who are
strong fliers, that can fly up to a 1/4 mile away
new food sources, and will invade your home or apartment when
to the light by the door or the lights inside the rooms.
The adult then bites the sleeping victim and begins to lay eggs in
crevices and cracks in the home.
In the U.S., these bugs are not a serious problem as they are in
and Central America. Pest Management Professionals are usually
only called (mostly in the southwestern states) if the problem has
become severe. Even though these bugs, have spread into
the U.S. recently, the northern states and not been documented as
infeted with these pessts. The following are steps that the
building owner can perform to prevent the Kissing Bug from entering
If you find that the foregoing methods are not working, and your
has somehow been infested with these bugs, please feel free to
Cole Home Maintneance, a licensed pest management professional
- Put screens on your windows
- Put screens on pet doors
- Use yellow bug lights on your house to deter the bugs from
attracted to white lights
- Screen your ventilation openings
- Remove ground squirrels, wood rats and rodent nests within
feet of the building
- Check beds at night and shake out bedding before getting
- Eliminate small cracks and crevices on the outside of your