The term “true bugs” refers to insects in the Heteroptera order. These winged insects possess needle-like mouthparts that allow them to suck fluids from plants and insects. There are around 40,000 documented true bugs worldwide, and nearly 4,000 in the United States. Unsurprisingly, a great number of true bugs are plant pests, and some are known for inflicting extensive damage to crops. While most true bugs feed on plants and/or insects, some species use their sharp mouthparts to puncture human skin in order to collect blood-meals.
Assassin bugs in the Triatoma genus, or “kissing bugs,” as they are more commonly known, suck human blood and are frequent home invaders. Kissing bugs spread chagas disease throughout Latin America, and public health officials in the US are now rethinking this insect group’s disease spreading capability in the southern US states where several species can be found, including Arizona. Since residential yards throughout the US see large populations of many true bug species, it is not surprising that some are in the habit of invading homes, often in excessive numbers.
The most common group of true bug house pests are boxelder bugs, including the western boxelder bug, which is abundant throughout the southwest. In addition to this species, the “brown grass bug,” or “weed bug” is a very common home-invading true bug pest in southern Arizona. As their common name suggests, these bugs are brown in color and around 9 mm in length. Brown grass bug invasions are common in newly developed residential neighborhoods and in homes located near uncultivated fields. Pest control professionals have collected enough indoor brown grass bug specimens to fill a one liter container.
While their massive numbers certainly make brown grass bugs a nuisance in homes, it should also be noted that their excrement permanently stains indoor fabrics, such as carpeting, furniture upholstery, drapes, bedding and clothing, and the insects themselves are malodorous. These insect pests invade homes frequently in the southwest, as the arid climate often dries up their plant food sources, prompting the bugs to move indoors. Brown grass bugs are particularly attracted to light colored homes, and they gain indoor access by squeezing through narrow exterior entries on the exterior walls of houses.
Has your home ever been invaded by odorous insect pests?