These insects are also known as kissing bugs, assassin bugs and Mexican bedbugs. They can cause life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in sensitive individuals. In South America, they can successfully transmit a serious disease known as Chagas’ disease. There are approximately 15 different species in the U.S., but the most troublesome and numerous are found predominantly in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California. The name kissing bug actually refers to a South American species that usually bites its sleeping human victims on the lips.
Conenose bugs are often associated with pack rats; please refer to the information below concerning the identification of pack rats*.
- An attempt should be made to reduce the number of conenose bugs present in and around the home. During daylight hours, the conenose bug seeks dark places to shelter. Outside inspect beneath flowerpots, outdoor furniture and any other dark and sheltered hiding places. Also periodically examine dark, quiet areas in the home around mid-spring to mid-fall, focusing on sleeping areas.
- All cracks and openings into buildings should be sealed as completely as possible. Entry into the home does not require a large opening. Make sure window screens fit tightly, weather-strip outside doors and screen chimneys and vents.
- Curtains should be drawn in lighted rooms at night.
- For those sensitized and at risk for anaphylactic shock, take steps to avoid being bitten when asleep. Move beds at least a foot away from walls and other objects, check for bugs in and around beds before retiring, use a tucked in bed net and wrap bed legs with adhesive tape sticky side out.
- Outside, look for rodent nests particularly pack rat nests around an infested home*. After removing any rodents from the nest, destroy the nest. Destroy only those nests close to the dwelling. By leaving distant nests intact, the kissing bugs have an alternative site to inhabit; this may discourage migration into the home. Remove all nest remains to ensure all kissing bugs have been eliminated. A pest management professional should be contacted to remove the rodents and their nests.
- Stack logs, lumber, and firewood in neat piles at least six inches off the ground and away from building walls.
- Outside lights should have yellow bug bulbs that are not attractive to insects.
Pack rats also referred to as wood rats or trade rats, are widely distributed over much of North America. Pack rats are apparently attracted to small, bright, shiny objects such as spoons, small pieces of jewelry, broken bits of mirrors, coins or other items, sometimes leaving sticks, nuts or other materials in trade.
Pack rats are rat-sized mammals with large ears, large dark eyes and a fairly long tail that is sparsely covered with hair or, depending on the species, well-furred with long hair. Their fur is soft. Fur on their backs is colored cinnamon, brown, gray, yellowish gray or creamy buff, feet and belly parts are generally much lighter in color; the tail is blackish or puff, paler on the lower surface.