Primarily nocturnal, kissing bugs are bloodsucking parasites that feed on a variety of invertebrates including humans, as well as both wild and domestic animals. These insects behave like bed bugs in that they live and deposit their eggs in cracks and crevices in and around man-made structures, then emerge at night to feed upon their sleeping hosts. Occasionally, these bugs will bite their hosts on the face, near the eyes and lips; hence they are referred to as “kissing bugs.”
Kissing Bug Habitat
Kissing bugs will inhabit the nests of rodents and other wildlife, and will also fly into barns and homes, feeding on livestock, pets and people. In rural areas, the presence of domesticated mammals and poultry is generally attractive to rodents, which in turn, contribute to the presence of kissing bugs in close proximity to man-made structures. Kissing bugs are able to enter homes through open windows or tears in screens. In homes, kissing bugs will hide in cracks and holes in beds, floors, walls, and furniture. They are most likely to be found near areas where a pet, such as a dog or cat, spends time.
Kissing Bug Behaviors, Threats or Dangers
Kissing bugs occasionally bite humans in their sleep, generally in spring or summer. People with certain skin sensitivities to the bug’s saliva may exhibit signs of allergic reactions, such as itching, swelling, and redness, however, bites typically do not result in a local reaction. Kissing bugs carry the parasite that causes Chagas disease, a potentially fatal illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 300,000 people in the United States are infected with the parasite. If you suspect that you or a family member might be allergic to kissing bug bites, see a physician or allergist for treatment options.
Kissing Bug Prevention
Preventing a kissing bug infestation begins with exclusion. Screen all windows and vent openings, making sure dog and cat entrances are insect-proof. Use weather stripping, caulk, or silicone seal to eliminate small cracks and crevices around foundation. During late spring and summer, change outdoor and porch lights to yellow insect bulbs. Remove debris outdoors that attracts rodents, seal entry points and repair any structural issues in homes and buildings that permit the bug’s entry.