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

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.

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