Kissing bugs are insects that may be infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. They are commonly known as cone-nose bugs or chinches. Kissing bugs feed on blood during the night, and they are called kissing bugs because they prefer to bite humans around the mouth or eyes.
FOUND A KISSING BUG? Precautions and Procedure
Citizen science offers the opportunity for non-scientists and scientists to work together to collect large amounts of data. This project is currently seeing the help of citizen scientists (like you!) to submit carefully collected kissing bugs from Texas and throughout the U.S. We are interested in learning more about the distribution of different species of kissing bugs, their infection prevalence over time, and their interactions with host species. If you have come across a suspected kissing bug in or around your home, kennel, yard, or other area, we are interested in hearing about it!
HANDLING Safety Precautions
Please do not ever touch a kissing bug with your bare hands! The T. cruzi parasite occurs in the feces of kissing bugs, and their bodies may be contaminated. A glove or small plastic bag may be used to catch the bug to avoid direct contact with the bug. The bug may be stored in a sealed plastic bag, in a vial, or other small container. All surfaces with which the bug came into contact should be thoroughly cleaned with a bleach solution.
KISSING BUGS How to Identify
Kissing bugs can be recognized by their ‘cone-shaped’ head, thin antennae, and thin legs. All of the U.S. species are mainly black or very dark brown, with red, orange or yellow ‘stripes’ around the edge. Their bites are generally not painful (since their goal is to bite and feed without being detected), and they are mainly active at dusk or night. Some of the most common species in Texas are shown here: