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Don't Get Kissed by the Conenose Bug. The Kiss of Death!

Texas is home to three species of Kissing bugs (Figure a.), which can transmit the parasite Trypanosoma crizi to hosts by biting and subsequently defecating near any of their numerous bite sites. The parasite Trypanosoma thrives in the digestive tract of the Kissing bug and is discharged with/in their feces. Although the most common, “vector-fecal’ transmission is not the only means of transmission; it can also be transmitted through the consumption of infected bugs, congenitally, through blood transfusion and via transplantation of infected organs.

(Figure a.)

Three species of kissing bugs that can be found in Texas. From left to right:

Triatoma (protracta),Triatoma (gerstaeckeri), and Triatoma (sanguisuga). Photo: Dr. Gabriel Hamer

Conenose bugs feed only on the blood of vertebrate animals. These inspects have long, piercing and sucking mouthparts that produce painful feeding wounds. Their bites cause localized swelling, dizziness, nausea and anaphylactic reactions in hypersensitive persons. Members of the Reduviidae family of insects, Kissing bugs are nocturnal blood feeding insect and as mentioned above transmit organisms that causes Chagas disease, sometimes called American trypanosomiasis. The symptoms at the early stages of this disease include fever and swelling of the face and eyelids (Figure b. & C).

(Figure b.)

(Figure c.)

Kissing bugs have been documented in 28 states including Texas (Figure d.). There are a total of 11 different species of kissing bugs and as previously mentioned 3 species have been identified in Texas. Boarding states of Mexico seem to the highest diversity and density of Kissing bugs. Studies show that about 50% of Conenose kissing bugs are infected with the Chagas parasite. Kissing bugs go through incomplete metamorphosis, meaning they develop into adults after a series of immature life stages called nymphs. It is important to know that both nymphs and adults engage in bloodfeeding behavior. Kissing bugs much like the mosquito feed on both domestic and wild animals such as rodents and domesticated dogs and cats.

(Figure d.)

Texas A&M provided this with Regards to Kennels:

"The kennel environment as a hot spot for Chagas disease transmission? Dog kennels are environments that may be particularly suitable for the establishment of Chagas disease transmission cycles. High densities of dogs in confined areas are associated with heat and carbon dioxide that attract kissing bugs that seek bloodmeals. Furthermore, dogs may easily consume kissing bugs in kennels. Kissing bug control can be difficult in kennels, particularly in areas where human development is relatively recent and kennels are surrounded by natural habitats where wildlife occur. Adult kissing bugs engage in nocturnal flights to search for mates and mammals for blood-feeding. Because adult bugs fly towards lights, we recommend that lights be turned off at night around kennels. Some insecticides are effective against kissing bugs when sprayed around the kennel area. However, because kissing bugs can fly in from many yards away or from nearby wildlife habitats, new colonization of treated areas can easily occur."

I will provide more information on the Kissing bugs and other pest in upcoming Blogs but for now here are some control methods. To control conenose bugs, destroy trash piles, birds and animals nests and other debris that serve as Kissing bug feeding sites. Inspect and repair foundations, floor molding, window screens and other mechanical barriers. Pesticides formulated as sprays and dusts provide effective control and as always if you have more questions do not hesitate to reach out.

First Response Pest Control proudly providing affordable pest control solutions in Flower Mound, Highland Village, Lewisville, Lantana, Corinth, Lake Dallas, Denton and all of Denton County. Call us today!

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