Kissing Bugs

kissing bug

Descriptions And Control Techniques

Kissing Bug Facts
Conenose bugs or "kissing bugs" are members of the Reduviidae family which is referred to as "assassin bugs".  Most of the members of this family prey on insects, but kissing bugs are bloodsucking pests that prey on different wild animals and humans. 

The Western Bloodsucking Conenose is found throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico.  It is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches long and is dark brown to black.  It sometimes has a small tan edge around its abdominal region.  The wings are held flat over the back at rest.  The head has 4 segmented antennae and a 3 segmented beak that extends backward below the body.

In California, they are found throughout the foothill areas.

Bites from kissing bugs normally occur at night while their prey are asleep.  There are a few punctures about 1/4 inch apart in a straight line.  The bite is usually painless, but may swell and itch for a couple of days.  Fifty percent of people who get bit by the kissing bug will react worse the second time.  Kissing bug bites are often confused with the bites of spiders and ticks.


Chagas Disease
Chagas disease is rare in San Diego County and there has never been a case reported that was acquired locally.  It is spread by kissing bugs, but not by their bite.  The disease is spread through the bug's droppings.  If the droppings are spread into the bite, it can enter the human body.  It is important to always clean the bite with Iodine to prevent infection and wash to remove the droppings.  The disease is most  often found in Latin America  because the species there are more likely to release their droppings after feeding.  Symptoms of the disease include swelling of the face, fever that develops two weeks after the bite, swelling of other areas and sometimes nervous system disorders


Kissing Bug Control
You can control this pest by taking the following steps:

  • Use weather stripping and caulking to close cracks and crevices
  • Seal openings where bugs can get it
  • Fix structural problems that allow entry
  • Screen all windows and vents
  • Insect proof pet entrances
  • Keep lights off at night by doors, windows and on patios when not needed
  • Remove rodent nests that are close to your home
  • Remove firewood piles and debris
  • Check beds at night and shake out bedding
  • Keep beds at least one foot from wall

Kissing Bug Life Cycle

  • Eggs: Large barrel-shaped eggs are laid most often in the summer. They hatch in 3-5 weeks.
  • Nymph: The newly hatched nymphs are wingless. Most species have 5-8 nymphl stages. Each stage needs a blood meal before moving onto the next stage. Each blood meal can last up to 30 minutes and takes 1 week to digest. 
  • Adult: They develop into adults in the spring. Adults can fly and have a long life.

Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatment should be a last resort. Make sure to try to remove hiding places and seal openings before you use chemicals.  If you have to use a chemical product, make sure to follow the directions on the label carefully. A total release pyrethrin  spray and insecticide dusts may help.