The kissing bug is not a romantic comedy or a kid friendly cartoon character, but it is an insect that has been confirmed living in Kentucky. Kissing bugs have gotten a lot of press in recent years along the southwestern parts of the United States because of their blood feeding habits resulting in potential health risks. A possibly deadlier disease than first anticipated, the kissing bug is linked to Chagas Disease, which many of the media coverage indicates that everyone is at risk. Though Kissing Bugs have been seen in various parts of the US, including the Kentucky, they are not common. The kissing bug is a vector of Chagas Disease which can be a life threatening heart disease, but contracting disease is even less likely than seeing a kissing bug. However, because they have been confirmed in the State of Texas, we at A Five Star Termite & Pest Controlwould like to make the locals more aware of kissing bugs.
How Do You Know if it’s a Kissing Bug?
Scientifically, the kissing bug is known as Triatomine. Though they are scattered throughout the US, they are found in Mexico, South America, and Central America. These bugs grow between ½” to 1” in length, have oval shaped bodies, that are colored black and have yellow, orange, or red horizontal stripes around the edge of their abdomen. Their heads are slender and feature a distinct beak.
How is Chagas Disease Usually Transmitted?
Being blood feeders, they often seek mammals to feed on and typically feed at night. Piercing the skin with their proboscis that is normally tucked in until feeding time, they inflate as they consume blood. Their nickname derived as they seem to favor feeding on or near the mouth of their prey. To transmit Chagas Disease, the kissing bug will feed on their host and then defecate; which they do as soon as they finish their meal. The bite is itchy and when the host scratches the bite area, the fecal matter is smeared into the open wound, infecting them with Chagas.
What Happens if You Get Chagas Disease?
If someone contracts Chagas disease, the symptoms evolve over time, becoming more severe. The bite mark will swell, followed by a fever, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes, which all can be contributed to flu symptoms. However, some people not experience any of these symptoms. After a couple of weeks, the symptoms dissipate until they are gone and can lay dormant for up 40 years. The initial stage is the acute stage, but later the stage becomes a chronic stage. Decades later, the symptoms of the disease reappear and attack the nervous system, heart, and digestive system.
How Do You Repel Kissing Bugs?
If you believe you have seen kissing bugs anywhere in your home or outside in your property, contact a professional immediately. In the mean time, make sure your home is as fortified as possible to prevent them from getting inside if they haven’t already been seen there.
– Remove the clutter outside such as wood piles, rock piles, yard maintenance waste, and so on. Kissing bugs will use this to hide in during the day.
– Any animal and pet enclosures you have on the property need to clean thoroughly daily.
– Replace the light bulbs on porches and exterior lighting with yellow bulbs; kissing bugs are more repelled by the yellow light and more attracted to the standard white bulbs.
– Seal up cracks and holes on your home and keep windows closed.
– Make sure that doors are sealed at the bottom with weather stripping.
– Any plants and materials that are delivered to your home from Mexico, Central and South America need to be inspected carefully and cautiously as you open the contents.
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If you suspect kissing bugs in your area, contact A Five Star Termite & Pest Control and let our specialists take care of the rest. Be sure to let the technicians know where you spotted the kissing bug.