The name of this pest may seem sweet, but kissing bugs are much more dangerous than you’d think. And as the weather starts to warm up this group of blood-sucking insects will be coming out to enjoy the sunshine just like you.
Despite the insect only hitting the news a few times over the past couple of years, many people don’t know exactly what these bugs are and the threats that they pose.
Kissing Bugs and Their Dangers
The first question you are probably asking yourself right now is whether or not kiss bugs are dangerous to your family and pets and the answer is a little complicated. Much like ticks, kissing bugs get their name from their tendency to suck blood. However, they tend to suck blood primarily from around the mouth and nose of a human. These bites themselves are not necessarily dangerous and oftentimes are no more annoying than a mosquito bite. However, these insects are carriers of a life-threatening disease known a Chagas Disease.
Kissing bugs can sometimes be a vector for a certain type of parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi. And this parasite is what causes Chagas Disease. The kissing bugs will pick up the parasite and then infect both animals and humans who can then spread the disease through their feces.
Chagas disease can also be spread through organ transplants, human-to-human blood transfusions, and from mothers to their unborn children. The disease begins with a fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and a loss of appetite. However, if left untreated can cause heart failure, an enlarged heart, cardiac and gastric difficulties, and an enlarged esophagus and colon.
Knowing what kissing bugs look like is the first step in keeping you and your loved ones safe. Being able to recognize the bug means that you are then able to take the steps needed to remove them from in and around your home.
If you do end up infected with Chagas disease there are treatments, however, there are no drugs or vaccines to prevent you from contracting Chagas’ disease in the first place. Because of this, it is very important for you to be able to recognize the symptoms so treatment can be received as soon as possible. Another important thing to be aware of is that your animals can contract Chagas disease too so knowing the symptoms in animals is just as important so you can keep your furry friends safe.
Things you Should Know About Kissing Bugs
The more you know about something the less scary it is! So what do you need to know in order to keep you and your loved ones safe? Here are some frequently asked questions about kissing bugs.
Can they fly?
Kissing bugs do not have wings when they first emerge, however they will grow wings as they reach adulthood allowing them to fly. Other things to be aware of about these bugs is that they are dark in color with red, yellow, or tan stripes on their legs and body. They also have an oval body and very distinct mouths. So if you see a pest that looks like this flying around it may in fact be a kissing bug.
Are they seasonal bugs?
Kissing bugs are the most prevalent from mid-spring through the end of fall. Because of this, our team recommends having regular inspections to make sure that these pests, along with any others found are taken care of. If you do find a kissing bug in your yard the CDC recommends placing it in an air-tight container and then drowning it in rubbing alcohol. If you want, you can even take the bug to your local health department for testing.
Where do they hide?
Kissing bugs are most active during the evening hours when most animals and people are asleep or inactive. The bugs will come out of hiding to then feed on the blood of potential victims. These bites are often painless and usually go unnoticed by most people. The bugs can live inside your home throughout cracks and holes in your foundation, as well as in a variety of outdoor areas. Some areas to pay close attention to include:
Making sure to pay particular attention to these areas during the spring, summer and fall months will help immensely in preventing the spread of kissing bugs. These are also areas that your pest control specialist will look at during your regular pest inspections!
How to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs
We’ve said this before, and we will most likely say it a million times again, but the best way to prevent ANY pest problem (kissing bugs included) is to keep them from ever making an appearance in the first place. This is known as preventative pest control.
Preventative pest control involves more than just having a pest professional come to your house once every few years. It involves quarterly pest control services that help to stop pests at the source before heading into each season. This in conjunction with measures you take on your own will help stop the spread of pests in and around your home all year long. And when it comes to preventing kissing bugs there are a few things YOU can do to help too.
Because these insects lay their eggs in tight space- like cracks and crevices- you should avoid leaving piles of stone or wood laying around your yard. Some other things that you can do include:
Some people believe that bug zappers and diatomaceous earth can be used as DIY methods for kissing bug prevention, however just like with any pest infestation home remedies don’t always work.
Because of that, your best bet to protecting your home and loved ones from kissing bugs and other pests is to call in the professionals. Our team at Sigma Pest has years of experience when it comes to dealing with tough critters, locating and sealing any hard to see entry points, and doing everything we can to help keep you and your family healthy and happy. Contact us today for more information about our pest control packages and what our team can do for you!