The Western Bloodsucking Conenose Bug Frequently Infests Homes In Arizona Where They Transmit A Parasitic Disease To Humans While Sucking Blood
For the past several months, news stories describing a potentially deadly parasitic disease spread by a group of airborne insects known as kissing bugs have frightened residents throughout the southern United States. Kissing bugs have been spreading a parasite to thousands of people in South America and Mexico for decades, and this parasite slowly eats away at internal organs, eventually resulting in death. The parasite is spread by several species of kissing bugs that are also native to Arizona.
One of these species, the western bloodsucking conenose bug, is a frequent home-invading pest in Tucson and a few other metropolitan areas in the state. This species invades homes at night where they suck blood from humans before defecating near the bite wound. In response to the irritation caused by bites, humans inadvertently spread the parasite-contaminated feces into the bloodstream while itching their bite wound, resulting in the transmission of chagas disease.
The adult western bloodsucking conenose bug is dark brown to black in color and roughly 0.5 to 0.9 inches in length. They also have a lateral abdominal margin that can sometimes be tan in color. Short hairs protrude from their mouthparts, which are longer at the tip. They walk around on short, stout legs, with their wings placed flat against their back when not being used. Nymphs of this species look similar to the adults except smaller in size and lacking wings.
These pests are adept flyers, swooping towards the artificial lights they are attracted to in human homes, such as porch lights, after dark. They will then slip inside through cracks and holes in window screens as well as gaps in doorways. Once they are inside your home, they will gravitate toward areas with low light, and hide in darker areas such as between mattresses, in/under furniture, and inside closets during the day. They will only come out at night to feed on the sleeping human residence before making their escape to a darker, more protected area to rest off their giant blood meal. You can often find them hiding amidst bedding or drapes near the bed of their host in the morning after engorging themselves during the night.
Have you ever found what looked like a kissing bug hiding not far from your bed in the morning?