FOUND A KISSING BUG? — Our Community Science Program

Community science is when non-scientists and scientists work together to collect data to answer scientific questions. Our community science project loves help from community scientists like you! You can participate by sending us kissing bugs from Texas and throughout the United States. We are trying to learn more about where different kinds of kissing bugs live. We are also working to learn more about how many kissing bugs are infected in different places. And we want to learn more about which animals kissing bugs feed on. We have lots of questions, and any kissing bugs you send us help us get closer to answering the questions. If you think you have found kissing bug in or around your home, kennel, yard, or other area, please reach out to us!

HANDLING — How to be Safe When Collecting a Kissing Bug

Do not touch a kissing bug with your bare hands! The T. cruzi parasite may be in the feces of kissing bugs, and their bodies may have the parasite on them. Use a glove or small plastic bag to catch the bug so you do not touch the bug directly. Keep the bug in a closed plastic bag, a vial, or other small container. Consider using a bleach solution to clean the surfaces where the bug was found. The bug can be put in a freezer for a few hours to kill it. This will also preserve the DNA for our testing.

When you find a kissing bug, write down the date, time of day you found it, where it was caught (indoors or outdoors), and any possible bites on people or animals. If you are in Texas, you can submit kissing bugs that bit a person to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Our lab at Texas A&M University is a research lab, and we mostly test kissing bugs that are NOT associated with bites.

KISSING BUGS — How to Identify

Kissing bugs have some parts that make them easier to recognize. They have a 'cone-shaped' head, thin antennae, and thin legs. All of the kinds of kissing bugs found in the United States are mainly black or very dark brown, with red, orange or yellow 'stripes' around the edge. Their bites are generally not painful, since they try to bite and feed without being noticed! Kissing bugs are mostly active at dusk or night. Some of the most common kinds of kissing bugs in Texas are shown here:

NON-KISSING BUGS — Send Us a Picture!

There are many bugs that look like kissing bugs. Many of these non-kissing bugs feed on plants or insects. They can have strong mouthparts that cause a painful bite if they are bothered or feel threatened. No insects other than kissing bugs are known to be natural vectors of the parasite that causes Chagas disease. We've assembled pictures of some of the most common non-kissing bugs here. Please take a look and see if your bug resembles these bugs; if so, it might not be a kissing bug. If you have any questions, please feel free to send a picture and a message. The bug can be put in a freezer for a few hours to kill it. This will also preserve the DNA for our testing.

Feel free to download and print our pamphlets on kissing bugs and canine chagas disease.

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.

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Funded in part by Texas Ecological Laboratory program

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