Kissing Bugs in Colorado
Over the last few years, rising concerns have made media coverage on a nationwide level regarding so called Kissing Bugs. The reason for concern comes not from the insects themselves, rather from their ability to spread a parasitic disease. The parasite is responsible for Chagas Disease and while the primary region of concern is Latin America, there have been cases reported in The United States. 11 species of Kissing Bugs have been noted in The United States.
Entomology experts in Colorado have indicated that the species of Kissing Bugs present in Colorado are found along the extreme western part of the state dating back to 1945. The most common of which is known as Triatoma protracta, a kissing bug which according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is not very active in spreading Chagas disease. Chagas disease can exhibit multiple symptoms anywhere from 1-2 weeks to years or even decades post exposure. Kissing Bugs are blood-feeding insects. Chagas may be transmitted via contaminated food, skin wounds including bite wounds from the insect, eyes, mouth or nose, through blood products, eating the insect or from mother-to-baby. The parasite is spread in the feces of Kissing Bugs. Dogs may eat Kissing Bugs resulting a higher risk factor for becoming infected.
Kissing bugs live in a variety of outdoor habitats. Indoors they are most common in bed resting/sleeping areas, around beds/bedrooms and near areas of rodent activity and nesting. Keeping these areas clean, sealing gaps/cracks/crevices around the home and tightly closing fireplace flues when not in use will all aid in reducing the likelihood of encountering a Kissing Bug. In the event that you suspect an insect may be a Kissing Bug, samples can be submitted to the state health department or an entomology department. If you believe that you or your pet have been bitten by a Kissing Bug, it is recommended that you contact your doctor or veterinarian. Kissing Bugs are roughly an inch in length and are primarily black in color with reddish/orange markings. Many people mistake Box Elder Bugs for Kissing Bugs. Box Elder Bugs do not bite however and are not known for spreading diseases.