Lubbock exterminator explains how to identify kissing bug

Published: Aug. 13, 2015 at 3:58 AM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2016 at 2:26 PM CDT
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Cone beak
Cone beak

LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock residents have discovered five kissing bugs in residential areas in South Central and East Lubbock since last Friday.

Michael Askew, manager director of Bug Tech, said kissing bugs feed on blood and carry parasites that can pass Chagas Disease to humans and dogs. He said they defecate when they bite, usually around the face and eyes when humans and animals are sleep. When the bite is rubbed or scratched, it can smear the feces into the wound.

The most identifiable traits of a kissing bug, Askew said, are its black color with the red stripes down its side and most importantly, its cone beak. They are typically the size of a penny.

While the first kissing bug was discovered in South Central Lubbock last Friday, Askew said some of the others were found in East Lubbock.

"The whole city needs to be aware of the possibility of this bug being in their home," Askew said.

However, he said they have also received many calls from people who are not sure whether the insect is a kissing bug or not.

One woman who was concerned was Christie White, who found a dark grey beetle with the red stripes down its side.

When she brought it into Bug Tech, Askew said it was actually a shield bug - a beetle that feeds on vegetation. He said the shield bug is grey, not black, and its shoulders are broader than the kissing bug's.

White said she will contribute to make sure her home stays kissing bug-free.

"I'm just worried that it's going to get really bad," White said, "and a lot of people are going to get sick because of this."

Anyone who finds a potential kissing bug in their home should not touch it, but can use a glove or small plastic bag to catch it, Askew said. Then, he suggests to bleach the area where it was found and store the bug in a small container.

This will be useful for an exterminator to determine if it is in fact a kissing bug before treating the home accordingly.

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