You wake up feeling itchy around your mouth. When you look in the mirror, there’s a little red bump there. It looks like a bug bite so you shrug it off. But over the next few days, you feel awful. Fever. Nausea. The works. When you head to the doctor, you don’t even mention the bug bite around your mouth. But thankfully, they notice the swelling and ask. “Just a bug bite,” you say, but they immediately order tests because that looks like something from an assassin bug, one of the most underestimated insects.
What You Need to Know About An Assassin Bug Bite
What you learn makes you wish that you hadn’t put off bug-proofing your new house: assassin bugs. Chagas disease. Heart problems. Enlarged organs. Luckily, your doctor says you didn’t actually contract Chagas. And thank goodness, because it’s incurable, and according to researchers, somewhere north of 60% of these pests carry the disease.
Some types of assassin bugs—typically, wheel bugs—will bite if and when they are handled. If this happens to you, you will probably experience intense and immediate pain. If you think you may have been bitten, wash the affected area and wipe it off with antiseptic. You can take ibuprofen or aspirin as a pain reliever. In most cases, you won’t need to see a doctor, although you may want to apply calamine lotion of corticosteroids to help with itching and swelling. Of course, in the case of prolonged of more severe symptoms, including hives or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
The whole thing is terrifying, and you have definitely learned your lesson. From now on, you’ll take bugs seriously.
What Exactly is the “Assassin” Bug or “Kissing Bug”?
These nasty little beetles can be found all across the bottom two-thirds of the United States, from California to North Carolina, but they are particularly prominent in Texas and other southern states. In fact, residents of the Lone Star State suffered a rash of bites back in 2015 that infected at least a dozen people.
Like mosquitoes, assassin bugs are bloodsuckers. They live with and feed off of mammals. That means you not only need to worry about yourself and your family members, but your pets as well. Usually, assassin bugs stick to nests in the woods that they make close to rodents, but in the spring and summer, they head out, looking for mates and new places to stay.
Lights attract them to people’s houses and they work their way in like most bugs do. Once inside, they seek out cool, dark places during the day and come out at night to feed.
How to Identify An Assassin Bug
The scientific name for “kissing bugs” is the triatomine bug. The assassin bug lifecycle can last anywhere from four to 24 months, depending upon the environment and the specific species.
Adults have fully developed wings and measure anywhere from ½ inch to 1 inch, with bodies that are mostly black or brown. Some also have red dots on their backs. Both adults and nymphs have similar feeding patterns, meaning they’re dangerous to people as soon as they hatch.
The problem is that unless you really search for assassin bugs in your home, you’re probably not going to see them, even if they are there, because of their sleeping habits.
Where to Find Assassin Bugs
These types of bugs like living close to their prey. If you’re worried that they’re in your house, you should look in the following places:
- Between mattresses
- Behind pictures
- In boxes
- In furniture
- In clothes hanging from wall pegs
It’s also wise to look outside in your yard, especially if you have:
- Bags of food
- Lumber or firewood
How to Prevent Assassin Bugs
Generally speaking, you keep assassin bugs out of your house the same way you prevent most insects from entering. Take the following steps to prevent assassin bugs from staying around on your property:
- Remove exterior debris, such as leaves
- Don’t keep old boxes, newspaper, or furniture lying around
- Seal up any cracks and crevices you find, including gaps under exterior doors
- Add screens to windows and doors
- Replace the regular light bulbs you use with yellow bug-safe bulbs
But the best way to ensure you don’t get assassin bugs–or to kill them if you do find them in or around your home–is to call in a pest control specialist.
Put ABC’s Expertise To Work on Your Pest Problem
ABC Home & Commercial Services can send an experienced pest control technician to your home to assess any pest problem you might be having to determine the best plan of action to help you deal with it. This means pointing out where your home is vulnerable and helping you to improve issues that could be causing pest problems. Get started today by submitting a request online or giving us a call and together, we can figure out a course of action that works best for your home.