PUBLICATIONS — Peer-reviewed research

Our lab regularly publishes our research findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals. "Peer-review" means that other scientists and experts have critically reviewed our methods, findings, and conclusions and found them to be well-done and trustworthy. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals also ensures that our research findings will be permanently available to future generations interested in understanding our lab's work. Here, we have compiled a list of our current publications, including a brief summary, as well as the link to the article.

Bejcek JR, Curtis-Robles R, Riley M, Brundage A, Hamer SA, Hamer GL. 2018. Clear resin casting of arthropods of medical importance for use in educational and outreach activities. Journal of Insect Science. 18(2): 34: 1-4.

We developed a protocol specific to embedding medically-important insects in resin, creating safe-to-handle and well-preserved examples for both classroom teaching and public health outreach education.

Curtis-Robles R, Hamer SA, Lane S, Levy MZ, Hamer GL. 2018. Bionomics and spatial distribution of triatomine vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi in Texas, USA. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 98(1): 113-121.

We analyzed data from over 3200 kissing bugs submitted by citizens from 2012-2016. Adult kissing bugs were most frequently collected during the summer months (May-September). Different kissing bug species were more likely to be found in different areas of Texas than others.

Curtis-Robles R, Auckland LD, Snowden KF, Hamer GL, Hamer SA. 2018. Analysis of over 1500 triatomine vectors from the southern US for Trypanosoma cruzi infection and discrete typing units. Infection, Genetics and Evolution. 58: 171-180.

We tested over 1500 kissing bugs, and we found 54% were infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Infection prevalence varied by kissing bug species. We also determined the T. cruzi strain types in infected bugs: we found TcI and TcIV. Different kissing bug species were associated with different strain types.

Curtis-Robles R, Zecca IB, Roman-Cruz V, Carbajal ES, Auckland LD, Flores I, Millard AV, Hamer SA. 2017. Trypanosoma cruzi (agent of Chagas disease) in sympatric human and dog populations in colonias of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 96(4): 805-814.

We sampled people and dogs living in medically-underserved colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. We found 1.3% of people and 19.6-31.6% of dogs were infected with the Chagas parasite. Kissing bugs collected by residents of the colonias were found to have fed on dog, human, and raccoon blood; one bug was infected with the Chagas parasite.

Curtis-Robles R, Wozniak EJ, Auckland LD, Hamer GL, Hamer SA. 2015. Combining public health education and disease ecology research: Using citizen science to assess Chagas disease entomological risk in Texas. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 9(12): e0004235.

From May 2013 to December 2014, a total of 1,980 kissing bugs were submitted to our program, mostly collected from dog kennels and outdoor patios. These bugs allow insight into a cross-section of bugs of high epidemiological and veterinary relevance. Citizen submissions of kissing bugs peaked in June-July and showed 63.3% infection prevalence with the Chagas parasite.

SA Hamer, R Curtis-Robles, GL Hamer. 2018. Contributions of citizen scientists to arthropod vector data in the age of digital epidemiology. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 28: 98-104.

This publication reviewed our and other citizen science programs. The contributions of citizen scientists have enabled many large research projects that would have not been possible with only a small team of scientists.

GL Hamer, JR Bejcek, EA Valdez, R Curtis-Robles, SA Hamer. 2018. A pilot radio telemetry field study of triatomine vectors (Hempitera: Reduviidae) of the Chagas disease parasite. Journal of Medical Entomology. 55(6): 1380-1385.

We used tiny radio transmitters to track the movements of kissing bugs. This very small study revealed one bug that returned to the same location over multiple nights. Learning more about kissing bug movement is important to developing ways to control/eliminate kissing bugs in an area.

R Curtis-Robles, AC Meyers, LD Auckland, IB Zecca, R Skiles, SA Hamer. 2018. Parasitic interactions among Trypanosoma cruzi, triatomine vectors, domestic animals, and wildlife in Big Bend National Park along the Texas-Mexico border. Acta Tropica. 188: 225-233.

We tested kissing bugs from in and around Big Bend National Park. Adult kissing bugs were most frequently collected during April-June, and 23% were infected. We found that bugs had fed on a variety of blood sources, including dogs, feral hog, ringtail, woodrat, human, and birds (including elf owl). Some dogs in the Park had evidence of infection with T. cruzi.


Our lab has tested over 1,500 kissing bugs for the Chagas disease parasite. Here is the breakdown of how many of each species (kind) of kissing bug we have found infected with the Chagas disease parasite.

Species of kissing bug Where in Texas this species is mainly found Number of bugs that were tested Number of bugs that were infected Percent of bugs that were infected
Triatoma gerstaeckeri South and west Texas 897 568 63%
Triatoma sanguisuga Central and northern Texas 315 150 48%
Triatoma indictiva Central Texas 67 32 48%
Triatoma lecticularia Central Texas 66 44 67%
Triatoma rubida West Texas 64 9 14%
Triatoma protracta West Texas 19 2 11%

Note: when very few bugs are tested (like for Triatoma rubida), the calculation for the percent infected is less precise. The actual percent infected may be higher or lower.

See full publication here.



Journalists and other media personnel, please keep in mind these key messages as you design kissing bug-related stories. Please help us distribute accurate information about kissing bugs to counter inaccurate information about kissing bugs on the internet!

  • Kissing bugs in Texas are most active in the summer months, from May through September.
  • The Chagas disease germ is not spread via the bite of the kissing bug; the germ is spread through the kissing bug feces.
  • Kissing bugs and the Chagas disease parasite have been found throughout the southern United State for hundreds of years, and probably much longer
  • Dogs can be infected with the Chagas parasite, but dogs cannot infect people.
  • People can learn more about Chagas disease from trusted sources, like the CDC and MedlinePlus

Funded under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012345 with the University of North Texas Health Science Center - Gibson D. Lewis Library, and awarded by the DHHS, NIH, National Library of Medicine. Funded in part by Texas Ecological Laboratory program.

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