Bloodsucking Conenose: Essential Facts & Tips for Dealing with These Insects

folder_openHemiptera, Insecta
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Bloodsucking conenose bugs, also known as “kissing bugs,” are insects that feed on the blood of rodents and other wild animals.

These nocturnal creatures can also bite humans, with some individuals developing allergies to their bites.

It’s important to have a basic understanding of these insects, as well as methods to deal with possible infestations, to ensure our safety and well-being around them.

Kissing Bug

Bloodsucking Conenose Basics

Identification

The Bloodsucking Conenose, also known as the kissing bug, is an insect in the family Reduviidae and subfamily Triatominae. They are typically:

  • Brown or black in color
  • 0.5 to 0.75 inches long
  • Oval-shaped with a cone-like structure on their head

Conenose bugs possess a distinct elongated, cone-shaped head and a dark brown or black body, making them easy to identify.

These insects, which measure about 25 mm long, belong to the wider group of assassin bugs known for their aggressive feeding habits.

They wield a three-segmented, piercing-sucking beak to consume blood from their hosts, typically at night.

Kissing Bug

Conenose bugs are frequently found near the nests of wild animals, which provide them with an ample food source.

Although they share similarities with bed bugs, conenose bugs can be distinguished by their larger size, darker color, presence of wings in adult stage, and their more oblong shape along with their pointy head.

Their bites can transmit the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which can cause Chagas disease.

Classification

The Bloodsucking Conenose is part of the order Hemiptera and suborder Heteroptera, classified as follows:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hemiptera
  • Suborder: Heteroptera
  • Infraorder: Cimicomorpha
  • Family: Reduviidae
  • Subfamily: Triatominae
  • Genus: Triatoma
  • Species: Triatoma sanguisuga

These insects are sometimes confused with assassin bugs, which also belong to the same family Reduviidae. However, assassin bugs do not transmit Chagas disease.

Bloodsucking ConenoseAssassin Bug
Transmits Chagas diseaseDoes not transmit disease
Feeds on the blood of mammalsPredatory on other insects

Remember to handle these insects with care if encountered, as they can potentially transmit diseases.

Kissing Bug

Lifecycle and Habitats

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the bloodsucking conenose consists of three main stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults.

  • Eggs: These are 1.5 mm long, white, and take around 13 to 35 days to hatch1.
  • Nymphs: The conenose goes through eight nymphal instars before reaching maturity1.
  • Adults: Adult conenoses can live for six months to three years1.

Nests

Bloodsucking conenoses often build nests in the following places:

  • Burrows of wild hosts, such as wood rats2
  • Tree frogs’ habitat3
  • Various places in North, Central, and South America

Kissing Bug nymphs

Habitats

The eastern bloodsucking conenose is common in a range of habitats:

  • Found in the southeastern United States4, Texas5, and California6
  • Also prevalent in Latin America, including Mexico7 and other parts of South America

Living environments for bloodsucking conenoses include:

  • Wooded areas close to their wild hosts
  • Near human structures where they can find additional sources of blood

Habitat Summary

North AmericaLatin America
Southeastern U.S.Mexico
TexasSouth America
California 

Relationship with Humans and Wildlife

Hosts and Feeding Habits

The eastern bloodsucking conenose, also known as the kissing bug, feeds on the blood of various animals, including:

  • Raccoons
  • Rats
  • Possums
  • Dogs
  • Humans

These insects are attracted to the warmth and carbon dioxide emitted by their hosts. They usually bite humans around the face, hence the name “kissing bug.”

Their primary vector for disease transmission is through their feces, which can contain the pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi.

Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug or Kissing Bug

Impact on Domestic Animals

Bloodsucking conenoses are not only a nuisance but also a potential health risk.

They are known to transmit Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) to both humans and animals, including dogs.

FeaturesBloodsucking ConenoseBed Bugs
Disease transmissionChagas disease (via feces)None
HostsHumans, raccoons, rats, etc.Mostly humans
Feeding timeNighttimeNighttime
Bites locationOften around the faceAny exposed skin

Here are some effects of Chagas disease on domestic animals:

  • Dogs may show symptoms like fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes
  • In severe cases, it can lead to heart failure and even death

Bites of a Kissing Bug

Prevention tips:

  • Use screens on windows and doors to keep insects out
  • Sealing cracks and gaps in dwellings
  • Applying caulk around windows and doors
  • Using bed nets and insect repellent
  • Regularly checking and cleaning pet resting areas
  • Maintain cleanliness in the home and surrounding areas
  • Contact pest control professionals if infestation is suspected

Remember, early detection and treatment are crucial for managing Chagas disease in both humans and animals.

By understanding the risks and taking preventive measures, we can reduce the impact of bloodsucking conenoses on our lives and wildlife.

Footnotes

  1. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IG083 2 3

  2. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/URBAN/Triatoma_sanguisuga.htm

  3. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN019

  4. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Conenose-Kissing-Bugs.aspx

  5. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/FactsAboutConenoseBugsinCA.pdf

  6. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/URBAN/Triatoma_sanguisuga.htm

  7. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IG083

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us bloodsucking conenose bugs. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose Bug

Is this a Kissing Bug?
Location: Carbondale, IL
December 14, 2010 4:09 pm
I’ve lived in Brasil for awhile and there I saw this bug once before, but it looked a little different.
I found this bug in a clothing hamper in Southern IL.
Also – if once suspects having the Chagas disease, how can you be tested to find out?
Signature: – Alais de Hoogh

Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose Bug

Hi Alais,
This is an Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose Bug,
Triatoma sanguisuga, and members of the genus are frequently called Kissing Bugs because they bite sleeping individuals on the lips. 

According to BugGuide:  “Natural habitat is nests of small mammals. Sometimes invades houses” and “Sometimes bites humans, and the bite may be severe, causing an allergic reaction.”  Of the entire genus, BugGuide indicates:  “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan.

The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite. (The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite.” 

We do not give medical advice and if you suspect Chagas Disease, you should seek professional medical attention.  Your physician should be able to provide information on testing for Chagas Disease.

Letter 2 – Immature Blood Sucking Conenose

I think my child was bitten by this bug
Location: Oklahoma City, OK, USA
April 16, 2011 3:28 pm
Hi, I think my 9 month old was bitten several times on the head by this bug… we found it on the bed skirt of his crib. Two days later, the bites have already almost completely healed, but if you happen to know what this is, and if it’s dangerous, I would sure be grateful!
April, 2011; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Thanks!
Signature: Joshua Brewer

Bloodsucking Conenose Nymph

Dear Joshua,
First of all, we need to divulge that we are artists and we do not have formal entomology backgrounds, nor science backgrounds for that matter.  We believe this is an immature Blood Sucking Conenose Bug in the genus
Triatoma.  Interestingly BugGuide has a matching photo and it is from Oklahoma. 

You may also read more about Bloodsucking Conenose Bugs on BugGuide, which indicates they are also called Kissing Bugs, Big Bed Bugs, Mexican Bed Bugs or Bellows Bugs.  Here is some information from BugGuide:  “Generally nidicolous, occurring most often in rodent nests but also in bird nests, logs and man-made structures such as barns, coops, houses; some Neotropical spp. also in caves.” 

BugGuide also indicates:  “Hematophagous, feeding on blood from tetrapods. Most common hosts are mammalian but avian, reptilian and amphibian hosts are recorded. The most common wild hosts are wood rats (Neotoma) but other common ones include armadillos, opossums and raccoons (possibly also skunks); synanthropic species may feed on livestock (horses, cattle, chickens), pets and humans.”

More importantly for you, the:  “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan. The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite.

(The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite–see Kissing bugs (Triatoma) and the skin. The CDC site says that rare vector-borne cases of Chagas disease have been noted in the so. US.”  Though we do not believe you need to worry about your child contracting Chagas Disease, however, we are not medical professionals and we feel a trip to the doctor might not be a bad idea.

Daniel,
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my query.  To be honest, I did not expect to receive a response with the number of emails you guys must get in a day.  But to get an answer back on the same day I submitted my question… amazing!
Thanks again for your time.
– Joshua W. Brewer

Hi again Joshua,
While it is true that we are unable to respond to all the mail that we receive, since we update the website on a daily basis, we do try make a few new postings each day.  This particular posting is also a public service notice of some importance and we would have been remiss to read it and then ignore it.  Your gratitude is appreciated.

Letter 3 – Bloodsucking Conenose Nymphs

Subject: Tiny Bugs on sofa?
Location: Los Angeles
December 26, 2013 11:41 pm
Can you tell me what these are? Found them in the cushions around a fabric sofa in my living room.
We live in L.A., CA. Thought maybe immature bed bugs, but don’t look right.
Signature: Stownsend

Blood Sucking Conenose Bug Nymphs
Blood Sucking Conenose Bug Nymphs

Dear Stownsend,
We would love to get a second opinion on this matter, but we are pretty certain that these are the immature nymphs of a Bloodsucking Conenose Bug in the genus
Triatoma

Also known as “Kissing Bugs, Big Bed Bugs, Mexican Bed Bugs, Bellows Bugs” according to BugGuide, Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs are a known vector for Chagas Disease.  Though this tends to occur more often in the tropics, there have been occurances of Chagas Disease in the U.S.  

See this photo on BugGuide for comparison.  We would urge you to take immediate action to eliminate these Bloodsucking Conenose Bug nymphs.

Blood Sucking Conenose nymphs
Blood Sucking Conenose nymphs

Ed. Note
We get slightly annoyed when we respond to an identification request and then we receive a spam blocker reply like the one below.  We generally ignore them but in this case, we decided to take the time to decipher the cryptic code that ensures the email came from a person and not some internet bot.

I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.
To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand.


If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience.

Thank you Daniel.  That certainly looks like the critters.  I still have the nymphs.  the Los Angeles County Agricultural comm. Entomologist wants to examine them for ID.  Can I send one to you or somewhere?
Thanks so much for your help.   Stanley Townsend, Los Angeles

Hi Stanley,
You are best to send them to the the county agency and you may want to contact the LA County Museum of Natural History.  We do not accept specimens, only photographs.  Please let us know what you learn.

Letter 4 – Black May Beetle Eater

Little bug, big pain!
June 15, 2010
I have lived both in the city and now in the country, so I have had my share of bugs. This guy though is new to me. I have looked all over and I cannot find out what this is. I have only seen two ever, and I have not seen one since the event. My little girl was sitting on the floor and suddenly screamed.

This little bug ran from her and she said it bit her. It didn’t actually bite her, but it did sting her. There was a little puncture wound in her had from it. I watched her carefully and no adverse signs ever appeared. The hole was there in her hand for several days.

I have been curious ever since as to what exactly this little guy is. I am sorry the pictures aren’t better, but I hope you can tell me what it is. The one thing is the little stinger came out of the back , but it fell off by the time I took the photos.Thank You.
M.Mason
Caroline County, VA

Black May Beetle Eater

Dear M Mason,
Your daughter was bitten by a Bloodsucking Conenose in the genus Triatoma, but the coloration does not match any of the species posted to BugGuide.  The portion of the abdomen that shows at the edge of the wings is striped in the Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose, Triatoma sanguisuga, but in your individual, the abdomen is a solid red. 

The Bloodsucking Conenose bites, and it does not have a stinger.  Your bug is missing its head.  You can compare your individual to the members of the genus depicted on BugGuide.

Update:  June 23, 2010
Thanks to Karl’s comment, we now know that this is a Black May Beetle Eater, Melanolestes pincipes, one of the Corsair Assassin Bugs.

Letter 5 – Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug Nymphs

Subject:  Blood sucking insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Arizona,  USA
Date: 08/12/2018
Time: 08:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,  these have been in my bed twice! Both times I squished them blood came out. Found a few more in a cardboard box under the bed.

We don’t have welts like bed bugs, not even bits. Have a cat that likes it under the bed and she may have bits, I’m not sure. They were fast callers l crawlers too, but disintegrate when squished.
How you want your letter signed:  Eager Entomologist in Training

Kissing Bug nymphs

Dear Eager Entomologist in Training,
We have bad news for you.  These are Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug nymphs or Kissing Bug nymphs in the genus
Triatoma, and they have been in the news frequently lately because they are vectors for the spreading of Chagas Disease.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison. 

According to BugGuide:  “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The North American species can carry the parasite but they do not normally defecate at the site of bite, and thus rarely transmit the disease (Vetter 2001). Rare vector-borne cases of Chagas occur in the so. US (CDC 2013).” 

The fact that you have captured so many nymphs in your home likely means an adult female Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug of reproductive age is also present.

Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug nymphs

Dear Daniel,
Holy crud!!! I had a feeling it was those but didn’t want to believe it. About this reproductive female…. what the heck do I do to get her and these gone!?!?

Dear (we hope still) Eager Entomologist in Training,
We do not provide extermination advice, but in this case, considering your infestation, you might want to seek professional assistance.  Let any contractors you contact know that you know exactly what you have so they treat the situation appropriately.

Thank you so much! Isn’t there someone i should be contacting about this finding? I’ve read somewhere they track instances of these bugs and collect specimens. And my passion for insects couldn’t be crushed by this. I’m wiser and nonetheless curious!

You can start with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Thank you! You rock!!

Letter 6 – Blood Sucking Conenose Bug from Mexico

Could you identify this insect?
Could you identify this insect? I have looked through the beetle section on your site thinking that it is some kind of a beetle or roach. There are quite a few interesting insects there. I enjoyed watching the different colors, shapes and sizes. I found a few that had similar form as this one but none had like the yellow hour glass on the back.

We do live in Southern Mexico. I would love to know about the bug, is it dangerous? This is about the 10th one we have come across during our 12 years here. There are always beliefs but I would like the truth about the bug. Thank you for helping me out! You seem to really enjoy the varieties of the insect world! Great site!
Anna

Hi Anna,
In our opinion, you have cause for concern. We believe this is Triatoma dimidiata, one of the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs known to spread Chagas Disease. According to Wikipedia, Triatoma dimidiata ranges throughout South and Central America, north to Mexico.

Triatoma dimidiata and other Blood Sucking Cone Nose Bugs are Assassin Bugs, not Beetles. Members of this genus are also known as Kissing Bugs due to the frequency of biting victims around the lips.

Letter 7 – Blood Sucking Cone-Nose Bug

Assassin/Kissing Bug
Hello. I was wondering if you could help me determine the difference between Kissing Bugs and Assassin Bugs. I understand that Kissing Bugs feed on vertebrates while Assassins feed on invertebrates, but I’m not entirely certain what this bug eats.

They are pretty common around my house in the Phoenix area of Arizona. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Nick

Hi Nick,
Sorry about the delay, but it is impossible to answer every letter. All Kissing Bugs are Assassin Bugs in the family Reduviidae, but the reverse is not true. This is a Blood Sucking Cone-Nose Bug, also known as a Kissing Bug in the genus Triatoma. It can spread Chagas Disease.

Kissing Bug Update
(11/09/2006) Kissing bug (Triatoma dimidiata)
Hello! This summer I was fortunate enough to research Kissing bugs, T. dimidiata. I noticed on your website some information on them, but I thought I would clarify some misconceptions on these very cool creatures! 1st, they transmit Chagas disease not by their bite, but by their feces.

As they feed on sleeping creatures, they can bite for up to an hour. During this time, they excrete. The victim later scratches the itchy bite, pushing the feces into the skin. Also, while the insects live throughout the Americas, cases of Chagas disease are reported almost exclusively in South America. It can also be spread through food and contact with the mucus membranes after touching the feces. Kissing bugs are attracted to CO2 and heat, like mosquitos.

They fly only when hungry, and only the adults fly. They are not to be confused with very similar-looking assassin bugs that feed on plants. In domestic conditions, the insects live usually in woodpiles or in wooden bedframes in homes near the woods with lots of dirt and dust. They dislike moist conditions. I included a powerpoint made for educative purposes in Latin America with some nice pictures… I love your website!
Alli

Letter 8 – Blood Sucking Conenose Bug

Beetle identification
Hi bugman,
I was recently hiking with my fiancee and a few friends outside Todos Santos, Mexico (about an hour and a half north of Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula, Pacific side). At the top of our hike, my fiancee and I came across this fascinating beetle (image attached).

The beetle consistently tracked and followed us, apparently attempting to either copulate with our appendages or hitch a ride. It would approach, I would step over it, and it would turn around and meander back toward me! At one point it climbed up my fiancee’s leg when we weren’t looking, and didn’t seem to do anything else.

Later, we walked about 50′ away, and about ten minutes later it came strolling over and tried to climb up one of our friend’s legs. He brushed the beetle away, and it went and sat in the shadow of a rock. After we photographed the beetle, I watched it for a little bit to see what was up. I have a feeling it was simply trying to get to the highest point possible – we were on top of a desert hill, and it would climb to the top of a rock and lift itself a few millimeters, then turn and move around some more.

I’ve never seen behavior like this from a beetle. I’ve perused your site now and the closest I found was the bee assassin beetle here , with a follow-up from BugGuide.net here . However, clearly these are similar but not the same. The assassin has a curved back beneath the wings, as well as the orange near the head; both these attributes are missing from my beetle. Do you have any idea what it could be? Thanks!!
Michael

Hi Michael,
Your specimen is definitely an Assassin Bug and not a beetle. We are concerned that it might be a Blood Sucking Conenose Bug or Kissing Bug, a known carrier of Chagas Disease. We will check with Eric Eaton to verify our suspicion.

Daniel,
Thanks for your rapid response! Please let me know as soon as possible if you can accurately identify it as a conenose or kissing bug. If it’s a potential carrier of Chagas’, I definitely would like my fiancee to get a blood test as the bug was on her for an unknown amount of time. Thanks!
Michael

Hi, Daniel:
Yes, it is a blood-sucking conenose, but the species Dipetalogaster maxima most likely. They are much larger than the familiar Triatoma species found north of the border. Poor thing must have been starving if it was chasing those folks in broad daylight.

Seriously, though, they are indeed a potential vector of Chagas disease, so it is best to avoid them. Travelers to Latin America are advised to sleep under mosquito netting, and to inspect their beds thoroughly before entering them, especially in rural or remote areas.
Eric

Letter 9 – Blood Sucking Conenose Bug Nymph

Subject: Conenose Nymph
Location: San Diego, CA
November 9, 2014 12:48 pm
Hello! Well, I am fairly certain what you see in the picture is a ConeNose Nymph that was found on my daughter’s mattress today in San Diego. Is it possible for you to approximate the age of the nymph?


Here’s a little background: My family returned to our home in San Diego from a mini-vacation in Disneyland 3 weeks ago and the morning after returning my wife found and killed a large fully grown Conenose bug filled with blood on my 4 year old daughter’s pillow.

I was able to identify the bug pretty quickly by just googling blood sucking insects in Southern California (never heard of this bug before). We have subsequently killed 3 very small conenose bugs on my daughter’s mattress (all containing blood) and my daughter has at least 3 bites with swelling and redness.

We called our pest control service yesterday and they came out and sprayed my daughter’s room, but we found the one pictured on her mattress this morning alive.


Out of extreme precaution, I took her fairly new mattress and box springs to the dump this morning and my daughter has been sleeping in my son’s room for the last couple nights. I’m hoping you can determine the age and possibly provide information on whether it is possible the eggs hatched in the mattress or box spring.


Seeing news stories pop-up today at the same time this is happening to us in regards to the “kissing bug” and Chagas disease has us quite concerned.
Thank you for any information you can provide!
Signature: Robert

Immature Blood Sucking Conenose Bug
Immature Blood Sucking Conenose Bug

Dear Robert,
We concur with your identification.  This appears to be a very young Blood Sucking Conenose Bug or Kissing Bug in the genus
Triatoma.  We suspect it was recently hatched. 

There is only one image on BugGuide of an individual that looks similar, though most likely in a later instar or developmental stage.  Based on the information you have provided, we would speculate that this youngster is the offspring of the adult yu found several weeks ago.

Immature Kissing Bug
Immature Kissing Bug

Letter 10 – Eastern Blood Sucking ConeNose Bug

found this bug.
Dear bug man,
I found this bug on a lamp shade in my living room. I moved it over to a table and got these great pictures of it before i put it in a bag and let it go, outside. I would like to know what kind of bug it is. Is it a type of beetle? A type of boxelder bug? please help!! Sincerely,
bug lover in Missouri

Dear Bug Lover,
This is an Eastern Blood Sucking ConeNose Bug, Triatoma sanguisuga. Their normal food consists of the blood of small mammals, like wood rats, but they will bite humans. As in your case, they will invade homes. According to BugGuide: “Bite causes severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi , a protozoan.

The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite. (The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite.” Chagas Disease is a serious problem in the tropics.

Though the liklihood of catching the disease from a North American species appears unlikely, you should nonetheless use extreme caution when handling one of the ConeNose Bugs.

Letter 11 – Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Beetles, I think…
Hi!
All 61 pages of beetles on your amazing site have been viewed to no avail. Thought I had one of these beetles (they are beetles, right?) identified on BugGuide but, alas, no.

The first, the long solid black one with the chunky hind legs, was moving very quickly on the front porch wall one day last summer. The other, the black and red one was quite a pest this last spring. I saw, felt, three of them inside my house which was built of rough-cut pine from the trees off the land here in the Great Smoky Mountains.

By pest I mean that it lets you know it’s there by nipping, not tickling as most bugs seem to do, but leaves no mark. Each, in turn, was escorted outside, unceremoniously. Any ideas? I’d love to be able to name them properly.
Thank you,
R.G. Marion
East Tennessee

Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug
Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Hi R.G.,
You couldn’t locate the Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug on our beetle pages since it is an Assassin Bug. The black and red pattern is quite distinctive. According to BugGuide, the Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug, Triatoma sanguisuga, is also called the Big Bed Bug or Mexican Bed Bug.

It normally feeds on “Blood of mammals, especially Eastern Wood Rat, Neotoma floridana . Also feeds on bed bugs and other insects. Feeds at night.” Also regarding its habitat: “Natural habitat is nests of small mammals. Sometimes invades houses.”

BugGuide also notes that it “Sometimes bites humans, and the bite may be severe, causing an allergic reaction ” but there is no mention of Chagas Disease which is spread by the related Western Conenose Bug. Chagas Disease is primarily a problem in tropical climates. We are still working on an identification for the other insect you sent in.

Letter 12 – Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Not a Bed Bug
July 29, 2009
Over the past week, I’ve been subjected to a series of mysterious and painfully swollen bites. I never felt the bites when they occurred but after noticing them they would itch and swell up to a size a bit larger than a golfball.

Unable to find any other source I took my bed apart and discovered this lurking between the mattress and springs. I captured it with a tissue intending to transfer it to a jar for identification, but my grandmother asked to see it and then promptly crushed it when it moved.

When I asked her why she said “It had blood in it, it must be what bit you.” I am not quite so ready to assign guilt based on largely circumstantial evidence, so I was hoping you could provide an identification.
David
Missouri, North of Kansas City, My Bed

Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug
Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Hi David,
In this case, Grandma was right.  This is an Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug, Triatoma sanguisuga.
According to BugGuide:  “Blood of mammals, especially Eastern Wood Rat, Neotoma floridana. Also feeds on bed bugs and other insects. Feeds at night” and “Sometimes bites humans, and the bite may be severe, causing an allergic reaction. See guide page for genus.”

The genus page on BugGuide indicates:  “Bite causes severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan. The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite.

(The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite–see Kissing bugs (Triatoma) and the skin. The CDC page on Chagas’ Disease says that ‘Rare vectorborne cases of Chagas disease have been noted in the southern United States.'” 

We have an Unnecessary Carnage section of our site devoted to harmless insects that were killed unnecessarily.  This killing was justified and does not warrent posting on our Unnecessary Carnage section.

Letter 13 – Eastern Blood Sucking Conenose Bug

High quality grapevine beetle photos, and eastern bloodsucking conenose (I think)
July 2, 2010
Hey bugman,
the other night I was outside taking photos of the Conenose (I believe courtesy of bugguide, thats what it is), which was sitting beside the outside light, when I suddenly heard loud buzzing.

I turned around and saw what I thought to be a large june beetle and after a few rather pathetic attempts to grab it as it was flying I finally made a good attempt and caught what turned out to be a grapevine beetle instead.

I was so happy as I had never found a grapevine beetle and had always wanted to. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy your website.
Michael Davis

Seymour (just south of Knoxville), Tennessee zip code 37865

Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Hi Michael,
Thanks for sending us your high quality photos.  We will be uploading your photos in separate postings to simplify our archives.  Our readership will benefit from your excellent image of an Eastern Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug,
Triatoma sanguisuga, which is profiled on BugGuide.

Letter 14 – Immature Bloodsucking Conenose Bug

What is this bug?
April 5, 2010
I discovered this creature on my bed. I originially thought it was a tick or a bed bug, but it seemed too large and also has six legs. It is dark brown with black spots outlining its body. It seems to move slowly, as it remained in the same place all day. What is this beast?? Help!
sam&elm
South Alabama

Immature Bloodsucking Conenose Bug

Dear sam&elm,
You have a bit of a problem.  This is an immature Bloodsucking Conenose Bug or Kissing Bug in the genus Triatoma, and you do not want to get bitten as they are a known vector for Chagas disease.  You may read more about the Bloodsucking Conenose Bugs on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Immature Blood Sucking Conenose

Subject: Bugs in Pillow!
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, CA
September 14, 2012 5:22 pm
I’ve found a few of these hiding under my pillows over the past week. I’m hoping it’s not a tick or bed bug, but concerned it might be?
Signature: Bugged in CA

Blood Sucking Conenose perhaps

Dear Bugged in CA,
Though this creature reminds us of a Bed Bug, that doesn’t seem correct.  We are going to get Eric Eaton’s opinion.  We have a bad feeling about this one.  It looks like a blood sucker to us.  Perhaps it is an immature Blood Sucking Conenose based on this photo from BugGuide.  If that is true, you might have cause for alarm since they can be vectors for Chagas Disease.  See BugGuide.

Immature Blood Sucking Conenose

Thank you so much for getting back to me! I looked at the links you sent, and the nymph pictures do look very similar. Since sending the request to you I had found another one in the bed, and when squishing with a tissue to kill it definitely contained blood.

And now that I’m thinking about it, I remember finding a good sized black bug in my slipper a few months ago that I now think was likely an adult one… oh my! 🙁

Eric Eaton Confirms Identification
Daniel:
Oh, dear.  Yes, I would agree it is an immature Triatoma sp.  Unusual time of year to find them.  Very unusual to find anything but an adult bug in a human dwelling.  The nymphs are usually associated with wood rats.
Eric

Letter 16 – Western Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Subject:  Type of assassin bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Los Angeles County/Antelope Valley
Date: 08/30/2021
Your letter to the bugman:  Please help ID this bug. I’ve been having welts and now an allergic reaction, and I found this bug in my sheets this morning.

Need to know if it’s a kissing bug or masked hunter…or other assassin bug. I collected the bug if you need more pics I can provide them. Please help. Scared about Chagas’ disease. Thanks
How you want your letter signed:  JRN

Western Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug

Dear JRN,
The bad news is that this is a Western Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug which is pictured on BugGuide.  The more comforting news is that this is a North American species, and according to BugGuide:  “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in humans.

Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The North American species can carry the parasite but they do not normally defecate at the site of bite, and thus rarely transmit the disease (Vetter 2001). Rare vector-borne cases of Chagas occur in the so. US (CDC 2013).”

Thank you! This is comforting :).  I appreciate your time and expertise.
Have a great day!

Letter 17 – Western Conenose Bug

Subject: swelling and itching bug bite
Location: Lake County, CA (hot summers)
July 28, 2013 11:23 am
Hi Bugman, A couple months ago various parts of my body–first my forearm, then a few days later my knee, then forehead, then lower arm, suddenly became very very hot, red and swollen, and itchy. The area of redness was 2-3 inches in diameter, though the swelling spread even further and even became somewhat of a pitting edema.

In the knee it was so swollen it became hard to bend. In the arm, the swelling extended from the elbow to halfway down my forearm. These symptoms lasted 4-6 days usually, then resolved. I suspected a bug bite of some kind because of how localized they were and how suddenly they came on.

Also I live in the country where bugs abound and often get into the house. I live in a rural area of typical Northern California grassy hillside with some oak and pine trees, with hot summers and a fair number of below freezing winter nights.

When I searched my bed, I found two of the bugs pictured…What’s the bug, and do you think it was th e culprit that caused these symptoms? And could it cause any long term consequences (like ticks which cause Lymes Disease). One clarification of the picture…the back end of the bug has a drop of water on it, which makes it appear more shiny than it really is.
Thanks for any help.
Signature: Bugbitten

Dear Bugman-
I just submitted an id request. I forgot to say the bug is about 3/4 inches long.
Thanks,

Western Conenose Bug
Western Conenose Bug

Dear Bugbitter,
This sure looks like a Western Conenose Bug,
Triatoma protracta, to us, in which case it could not only be responsible for the bites, but also some long term consequences, namely Chagas Disease.  According to BugGuide, Conenose Bugs are: 

“Hematophagous, feeding on blood from tetrapods. Most common hosts are mammalian but avian, reptilian and amphibian hosts are recorded. The most common wild hosts are wood rats (Neotoma) but other common ones include armadillos, opossums and raccoons (possibly also skunks); synanthropic species may feed on livestock (horses, cattle, chickens), pets and humans.”  BugGuide also notes: 

“Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan. The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite. (The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite–see Kissing bugs (Triatoma) and the skin. The CDC site says that rare vector-borne cases of Chagas disease have been noted in the so. US.”  

See BugGuide for a photo of a Western Conenose Bug.  We would urge you to seek a second opinion on our identification and we would also urge you to seek some medical attention.  Though we doubt that you have contracted Chagas Disease, it is possible, and at any rate, it seems you have had a severe negative reaction to the bites.

Daniel,
Thanks so much for your quick response and immensely helpful information.  It sure does look like the Western Conenose pictured on BugGuide.  These incidents happened about 2 months ago (and also previously a couple years ago).  I still have the dead bug in a jar. 

I’m thinking I should hang onto it for ID purposes or if there is any kind of test to do on the bug to test for the parasite.  Do you have a suggestion as to (1) who I might bring it to for second opinion on ID, and also (2) is there some way I should preserve it in the meantime?  Although it sounds like it’s rare to get Chagas disease in North America, I will still get it checked out medically. 

Do you have any suggestions as to doctors who are knowledgeable about insect mediated diseases?  I don’t know that a general practitioner would know or adequately follow up.  Interestingly, when this happened a couple of years ago, I also found these same bugs on the wall behind my bed, took a picture of them and brought it to my doctor. 

However, concurrently, I was suffering from hives, and so once that was diagnosed, nobody thought any more about the bugs and that they might be the cause of anything.  Both this time and two years ago, the swelling and itching went away in a few days for most of the bites, although this time, the bite on the forearm still continued to itch for weeks afterward, which somewhat concerns me.
Thank you so much for your help.
Deborah

Hi Deborah,
This is kind of out of our league.  You can try BugGuide for a second opinion on the identification, or better yet, your local natural history museum if they have an entomology department.  You should consult with your family physician regarding any tests for Chagas Disease.

Letter 18 – Western Conenose Bug

Subject: Is this beetle poisonous?
Location: Southern California
April 6, 2014 11:01 am
Hi,
We found this bug in my daughters bed. For the past week, she has been waking up with horribly swollen and disfiguring bites that turn into oozing blisters within a few days. Any ideas what this is?
Signature: Thank you, Krishni

Western Conenose Bug
Western Conenose Bug

Dear Krishni,
This is not a beetle.  It is a species of Assassin Bug known as a Kissing Bug or Western Conenose Bug,
Triatoma protracta.  You can compare your individual to this image on BugGuide.  Though it is not a poisonous species, it is of some concern because they carry a pathogen known to cause Chagas Disease. 

Chagas Disease is a much greater threat in the tropics than it is in the United States, but there is a possibility that your daughter might have contracted the protozoan that causes Chagas Disease.  According to BugGuide:  “Bite can cause severe allergic reaction in many humans. Bite and defecation into bite can transmit Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan.

The most notorious vector is T. infestans, found in South America. The North American species are not normally thought to transmit the disease, though they can carry the parasite. (The North American species do not normally defecate at the site of the bite, which is what actually transmits the parasite–see Kissing bugs (Triatoma) and the skin [University of California eScholarship].

The CDC site says that rare vector-borne cases of Chagas disease have been noted in the so. US.”  You may want to contact the Center for Disease Control for additional information.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Blood Sucking Conenose Bug

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31 Comments. Leave new

  • Sounds like you’ve been pretty lucky RG that this guy hasn’t managed to break the skin with its nip. Hope they don’t get more aggressive in future

    Reply
  • I’m confused. I thought that both eastern and western blood-sucking conenose bugs could cause Chagas Disease? Do you know if there have ever been any confirmed cases in Florida?

    Reply
  • I’m trying to use the FB APIs to post to a fan page, but can only get it to post to my *main* page 🙁 I am very frustrated at this point. So close, yet…

    Reply
  • Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Reply
  • Unfortunately the head is missing and the front end is a little mashed, but it appears that the front lobe of the pronotum is distinctly longer than the back lobe. Also, the tibia on the first two pairs of legs are expanded. These expansions are spongy suction pads that it uses to grab and hold its prey. These are both features of the Assassin Bug (Reduviidae) subfamily Peiratinae, the Corsairs. I think this is likely an example of a Red-and-black Corsair or Black May Beetle-eater, two common names for what was formerly known as Melanolestes abdominalis. It is now considered a color form of the Black Corsair (M. picipes), the difference being the red on the abdomen. The Bugguide site has photos of a male (http://bugguide.net/node/view/7333/bgimage) and a female (http://bugguide.net/node/view/8145). The females usually have very small and useless wings. And yes, they do have a reputation for biting humans. K

    Reply
  • Ken Wolgemuth
    June 15, 2010 9:58 pm

    I don’t think this is a Conenose. Kissing Bugs depend on stealth to obtain their blood meals. Their bites are not painful at the outset (although they may cause allergic reactions after some time has passed). To me this resembles a Black Corsair (Melanolestes picipes). See http://bugguide.net/node/view/7332.

    Reply
  • Hi my name is Roberto Burgos and i live in chicago il,is possible that this kind of bug can live in this area , and to get the point, my daugther of 12 years old, was bitten by one kind of bug, very close to the picture shown up here,and i’d like to know if this bug is a carrier of the chagas disiease and i have the pictures of this bug and i like to send it to you or post in this site but i don’t know how, please somebody can you help me out? It was night and my daughter was at the park with all the family. Nothing happened till we got back home. The when she was playing with the clay she got bitten. We had the bug in a little jar and we took her to the hospital. We showed the bug to the doctor but when they checked their bug database they said they didn’t recognize it. When it bit her she said that it was as if someone had lit a small flame of fire in the inside of her skin on the area where the bug bit her. We thought nothing of it until we saw what this bug could mean. Also is there a cure as long as it’s been less that a year since she was bit? thank you.

    Reply
  • This kissing bug is Triatoma rubida, fairly common in Arizona.

    Reply
  • I would agree with Eric that this is probably Dipetalogaster maxima.

    Reply
  • This is Triatoma pallidipennis, a member of the phyllosoma complex of the genus.

    Reply
  • Definitely a species of Triatoma and in Alabama, almost certainly T. sanguisuga but T. lecticularia cannot be ruled out.

    Reply
  • Definitely Melanolestes picipes.

    Reply
  • In Oklahoma, it’s extremely likely that this is Triatoma sanguisuga.

    Reply
  • American Red Cross screens for Chagas in all donated blood, so that would be one way to determine whether you have the disease. It can resolve itself, it can also lie dormant for a decade or two, then come back and do heart damage. Early treatment is the best defense, and complications of that extent are rare. But we are seeing conenose bugs more and more in California, and they’re not as rare in the Bay Area as they once were. I’m battling a nymph infestation as I write this… (in Marin County)

    Reply
  • moses valdez
    May 14, 2014 6:19 pm

    Yesterday, my wife and I were doing yard work and I felt something crawl my right forearm near my wrist. Later I noticed a swelling of about 2″ long but did not hurt nor itch. I washed it but it is still there. My wife also got bit in 5 different areas with the same result. No itch, just swelling. No direct bite mark either. What do you think? I live in Kelseyville, Ca. at Clearlake California.

    Reply
    • We think it is very difficult to identify an insect from a bite, and even more difficult to identify an insect from a description of a bite. We cannot say with any certainty that you and your wife were bitten by a Western Conenose Bug.

      Reply
  • K. Langford
    June 13, 2014 9:19 am

    This is nothing to fool around with. The Cone Nose bug can cause severe allergic reactions that get worse with each repeated bite. Even though it is relatively unknown, annually more people in California die from reactions from this bug’s bite than from bee stings. My brother-in-law was one of those. Your local County Department of Agriculture has a pamphlet describing the bug and suggestions about how to get rid of it.

    Reply
  • I just found one of these today as well! :/ Phoenix Az

    Reply
  • looks like a cross between a bedbug and kissing bug….

    Reply
  • We were in the jungles outside of Huatusco Mexico and were bitten and made to bleed by an insect in the grass. We they are swollen and itchy 5 days later. Any idea what they could of been and what to watch out for? They were small and black in color. Not a mosquito or a flea. Thank you.

    Reply
    • There are so many things in the jungle that might bite, we don’t know where to begin speculation.

      Reply
  • it’s a black sucker bug it sucks your blood when your sleeping.
    i just killed one to day and i got lots of big bumps blister because of this bug.

    Reply
  • it’s a black sucker bug it sucks your blood when your sleeping.
    i just killed one to day and i got lots of big bumps blister because of this bug.

    Reply
  • It’s not a bed bug.. this is a kissing bug it’s bite last several weeks longer in appearance then the bed bug. The kissing bug is of a light color and it’s bite like a bed bugs at first signs of swelling will show.. but within time the bite looks as a flea bite and/or pimple that has not come to a head.
    These bugs are essentially killed by isolation of the infected or host living areas. Then removing one section at a time of infested areas of cloth bedding material that are made of cloth and bagging. Poison after infested area is clean and leave cloth in bag that is tied off.. x y kicks is a good poison

    Reply
  • It’s not a bed bug.. this is a kissing bug it’s bite last several weeks longer in appearance then the bed bug. The kissing bug is of a light color and it’s bite like a bed bugs at first signs of swelling will show.. but within time the bite looks as a flea bite and/or pimple that has not come to a head.
    These bugs are essentially killed by isolation of the infected or host living areas. Then removing one section at a time of infested areas of cloth bedding material that are made of cloth and bagging. Poison after infested area is clean and leave cloth in bag that is tied off.. x y kicks is a good poison

    Reply
  • Virginia Odom
    July 24, 2018 12:54 pm

    In the 50’s when at a campfire camp in South Texas we had bugs which we called blood suckers. It is like or part of the kissing bug. I remember what they looked like and looked a lot the same. I was bitten during the night. But didn’t make me sick. My Mom went through all my clothes and bedding before taking them in the house. Are they the same?

    Reply
  • I don’t know in the US, but here in Brazil is the recommendation is always to collect them alive, so they can check in they’re infected with Triatomines or not.

    Reply
  • I have nearly died twice from Anaphylactic Shock due to Western Cone-Nose Bug bites. I now take one tablet of Pepcid, and one of Zyrtec about 30 minuets before bed (Set an Alarm!), as they are Histamine 1 & 2 blockers. The Bugs typically bite multiple times in a linear fashion, about 1/2 inch apart. Oddly, the bites hurt when one is awake, but are not felt when sleeping – i have experienced both!

    Reply

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