The kissing bug, or triatomine or vinchuca bug, is a an insect found in South America. It is known locally as the kissing bug for its habit of "biting" its victims around the mouth, as they ( the victim, not the bug) sleeps. The main concern regarding kissing bugs is that they are a disease vector for Chagas disease, a very dangerous disease which eventually affects the function of the heart in its victims.

The kissing bug is also the name for triatoma rubidia, a biting insect extremely common in southern Arizona. It is also known as the conenose beetle. They look evil, being about 1/4" - 1/2" long, black, and with a red X pattern or trim on their shells.

The name probably arose from their gentle bite, which doesn't hurt at all, but causes itching later. Probably more than half of the "mosquito" bites Arizonans whine about are actually kissing bug bites, or bites from pet fleas. Kissing bugs usually bite when the victim is asleep, and the insects are more active at night than during the day.

Infestations can occur, especially where pack rats or other rodents are also a problem -- the bugs proliferate in the rats' nest. If the nest is eliminated by homeowners trying to do pest control, the kissing bugs frequently invade the house for their blood meals.

Chagas' Disease is not frequently reported in the United States. The Chagas Beetle in South America is primarily responsible for the spread of that disease. If you think you've been bitten by kissing bugs, search your bed frame and the forgotten corners of your bedroom. Kill kissing bugs guilt-free, they're all over the place and for every one you kill, fifty hatch. Alternatively, you can feed them to your pet lizards.

Kiss"ing bug`. (Zool.)

Any one of several species of blood-sucking, venomous Hemiptera that sometimes bite the lip or other parts of the human body, causing painful sores, as the cone-nose (Conorhinus sanguisuga). [U. S.]


© Webster 1913.

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