While well-known pests like mice, rats, and cockroaches have their own dangers, there are plenty of non-native pests that can be incredibly dangerous to people. Kissing bugs are the latest accidental import to the United States, and they carry a nasty disease or cause uncomfortable allergic reactions in people.
What are Kissing Bugs?
Kissing bugs, also known as reduviid bugs, are found in southern countries like Mexico, Central America, and South America. They’re now found in the southern United States, but they’ve been reported in over half of the states now. These bugs are found indoors and outdoors. If they’re living outside, they’re found in areas like woodpiles, in outdoor dog kennels, under porches, and in cracks and holes in homes/buildings. They come out at night, preferring to hide away during the day. They like to stay close to blood hosts like humans, mammals, birds, and even reptiles, so chicken coops can become infested. Well constructed and sealed homes don’t usually see kissing bugs indoors because the bugs prefer to find easily accessible homes.
Why Are They Dangerous?
Kissing bugs are dangerous because they carry a parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi that causes Chagas disease. This disease attacks the digestive and cardiovascular systems. There are two phases to Chagas disease. The acute phase includes symptoms like fever, rash, sores where the parasite entered the body, vomiting, diarrhea, and swollen eyes. This phase isn’t dangerous to healthy adults, but it is harmful in children or immunocompromised people. In healthy people, the symptoms of the acute phase disappear on their own, and the parasite goes dormant in the body for years.
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