Contact Dermatitis in Panama: Might this be from a Bicho de Fuego???

I was urinated on by a type of beetle.
March 27, 2010
Hola Bugman!
I recently returned from a three month stay in Panama, where just a few days before my departure, I was peed on in my sleep by a type of beetle that the locals called “chinea” (sp?). The urine left a large purplish-black blister on my arm, that with the help of hydro-cortisone cream, has been steadily healing. A biologist friend of mine consulted a Panamanian doctor friend and concluded that the beetle is of the stinking variety. Any more specific info? I’d love to be able to really get to know the bug that has left me, if only a little, emotionally and physically scarred! ūüôā
Muchos gracias y adios! Katie
Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province, Panama

Contact Dermatitis: Bicho de Fuego possibly

Hola KAtie,
First we need to come clean and admit that our response is total speculation based on circumstantial evidence.¬† Since there is no actual photo of the culprit, nothing is certain.¬† With that stated, there is a genus of Rove Beetles, Paederus, that has a worldwide distribution.¬† In Africa, this beetle is called a Creechie or Acid Bug.¬† We have posted letters with African species several times in the past, including January 2008 and again in May 2008.¬† We found an online posting on the US National Library of Medicine website that indicates “Epidemic outbreak of dermatitis caused by Paederus signaticornis Sharp (Coleoptera: staphylinidae) observed in Jos√© Domingo de Obald√≠a Hospital, David, Panama
” in January 1982, so the genus is found in Panama.¬† The Medical and Veterinary Entomology website has information, including:¬† “Rove beetles in the genus Paederus contain pederin (C25H45O9N), a toxin more potent than that of Latrodectus [Black Widow] spider venom, and the most complex nonproteinaceous insect defensive secretion known.¬† Pederin is synthesized by endosymbiotic gram-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas species) occurring in female Paederus species.¬† The beetles, which are mostly 7 to 13 mm long, are found in North, Central, and South America; Europe; Africa; Asia; and Australasia.¬† Unlike most rove beetles that are dull-colored, many Paederus species have an orange pronotum and orange basal segments of the abdomen, which contrast sharply with the often blue or green metallic elytra and brown or black coloration of the rest of the body.¬† This color pattern may be a form of warning (aposematic) coloration, but a defensive function for pederin has not been demonstrated. … Species in South American countries are known by various names, such as bicho de fuego, pito, pot√≥, pod√≥, and trepa-moleque.”

Thanks for the info!  If when I return to Panama am able to get a photograph/more info, I will surely send you an update!

2 thoughts on “Contact Dermatitis in Panama: Might this be from a Bicho de Fuego???”

  1. Hi, I live in Panam√°, and from what you were saying, your insect is probably what we call a chinche, not chinea, and it is usualy identified by the form of its body and the horrible stinking smell that comes from its “urine”, a defensory behavoir in which the insect sprays a liquid as soon as it senses any danger to repel any posible predator. It is quite common in Panam√°, and loves vines that are close to human homes. Some are quite beautiful, but they are so trigger-happy that they are considered a pest here. I am posting a link to a yahoo! image search in which you can see many different types, most of them I have seen in Panam√°. But I would like to warn you about one that is called “chinche besucona” which bites humans, and may infect them with a parasite that causes Chagas, so please be very carefull around them…..;_ylt=A0oG7nc4DjRN5XQB7ShXNyoA?ei=UTF-8&p=chinche&fr2=tab-web&fr=yfp-t-701

    • Thanks for your comment. The Chinche is one of the Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs in the genus Triatoma, and they are capable of spreading Chagas Disease.


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