What are bedbugs and kissing bugs?
Bedbugs are flat, wingless insects about
0.25 in. (0.6 cm) long. Kissing bugs are brown, wingless insects that are about 0.75 in. (2 cm) long. Bedbugs range in color
from almost white to brown. They turn rusty red after feeding. Kissing bugs are dark brown or black with red or orange spots along the edge of their bodies. Like
mosquitoes, bedbugs and kissing bugs feed on blood from animals or people.
Bedbugs get their name because they like to hide in bedding and mattresses.
Kissing bugs get their name because they are often found around the mouth.
Both kinds of bugs usually hide during the day and are active at night when they feed. They
can go for weeks without feeding. See a
picture of a
Bedbugs do not seem to spread disease to people. Kissing bugs can carry a parasite that causes Chagas disease, but this is not common in the United States. But itching from the bites can
be so bad that some people will scratch enough to cause breaks in the skin that
get infected easily. The bites can also cause an
allergic reaction in some people.
Where can you find bedbugs and kissing bugs?
Bedbugs are found worldwide, but they are
most common in developing countries. In the past, bedbugs were rare in North
America and Europe, but they are getting more common in these areas. Kissing bugs are found in warm southern states of the U.S., and in Mexico and central and South America.
Bedbugs are most often found in hotels, motels, hostels, shelters, and
apartment complexes where large numbers of people come and go.
Because bedbugs and kissing bugs hide in small crevices, they can come into your house on
luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and other objects. The bugs can
hide in beds, floors, furniture, wood, and paper trash during the day.
How do you know if you have bedbugs or kissing bugs?
The first sign of bedbugs may be red, itchy bites on the skin, usually on
the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites, unlike
some other insects that leave bites here and there.
Kissing bugs can cause patches of itchy bites around your mouth. The bites may swell and look like hives. The itching may last a week.
Look also for
these other signs:
- The bugs themselves, especially along the seams
- Tiny bloodstains on sheets and
- Dark spots of insect waste where bedbugs might crawl
into hiding places on furniture, walls, and floors.
- A sweet odor
from bedbugs? scent glands where bedbugs are found in large numbers.
How can you treat bug bites?