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Kissing Bug

Triatoma rubida

a kissing bug, Triatoma rubida, photo © by Mike Plagens

Photographed May 2013 at the campground in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Pima Co., Arizona, USA. The specimen is about 15 mm.

Reduviidae -- Assassin Bug Family

Where there are populations of rodents such as pocket mice and pack rats in the Sonoran Desert, there is sure to be nearby also a population of blood sucking Triatoma bugs. They obtained the pleasant name of kissing bugs because they emerge at night and if rodents are unavailable find their way to the lips of sleeping humans. They do so with such stealth and super sharp apparatus that the victim may never know. The bite may be painless and without swelling!

In parts of Latin America these bugs can become a nuissance within human habitations and can vector American trypanosomiasis. In Arizona, this protozoan parasite has not been recorded.

Cone-nose bugs, as they are also known, are mostly black or dark brown, sometimes with the abdomen marked with red or orange. The head is long and narrow and the enlarged eyes seem to bulge out to the sides. The blood sucking apparatus, a long sharp beak, is folded beneath the bug when not in use.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 6 July 2013