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!

DID YOU SQUISH A BUG? — How to clean up a squished bug

It's best to NOT squish a bug, but sometimes it happens! After the bug is squished, do not touch the 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 an item like a small plastic bag to pick up the bug and throw it away where other people and animals cannot get it. If you squished the bug and there is a mess, consider using a bleach solution to clean the surfaces where the bug was found. Read the label on the bleach container before using. If you want to send us the squished bug for research, read below about how to send us a bug.

SUBMITTING A BUG FOR TESTING — How to prepare a bug to send to us for research

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 collect the bug so you do not touch the bug directly. Keep the bug in a closed plastic bag, a vial, or other small container. To kill the bug, you can put it in the freezer for a few hours or you can set the container outside in the sun until the bug dies. Contact us with any questions!

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 of their bodies. Since they try to bite and feed without being noticed, their bites are generally not painful. 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 carry 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. Funded in part by Texas Ecological Laboratory program.

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