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.
Bloodsucking Conenose Basics
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.
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.
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 Conenose||Assassin Bug|
|Transmits Chagas disease||Does not transmit disease|
|Feeds on the blood of mammals||Predatory on other insects|
Remember to handle these insects with care if encountered, as they can potentially transmit diseases.
Lifecycle and Habitats
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.
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
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
|North America||Latin America|
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:
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.
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.
|Features||Bloodsucking Conenose||Bed Bugs|
|Disease transmission||Chagas disease (via feces)||None|
|Hosts||Humans, raccoons, rats, etc.||Mostly humans|
|Bites location||Often around the face||Any 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
- 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.
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
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.
Signature: Joshua Brewer
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Caroline County, VA
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
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
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.
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!
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
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!
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!
Letter 8 – Blood Sucking Conenose Bug
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
Missouri, North of Kansas City, My Bed
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
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.
Seymour (just south of Knoxville), Tennessee zip code 37865
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!
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
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.
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
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.
Letter 16 – Western Blood-Sucking Conenose Bug
Subject: Type of assassin bug?
Geographic location of the bug: Northern Los Angeles County/Antelope Valley
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
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.
I just submitted an id request. I forgot to say the bug is about 3/4 inches long.
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.
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.
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
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
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].