What’s being described popularly as the “kissing bug” is a deadly insect that’s also called the triatomine bug. It’s a bloodsucker that focuses on attacking mammals — household pets and humans included — in the lip area. The kissing bug’s modus operandi resembles that of bed bugs: they lie in wait in bedding and under mattresses and take advantage of sleepers to extract their bloody meal. But the kissing bug is more dangerous than bed bugs, which cause annoyance, itching and panic but aren’t deadly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the kissing bug can cause Chagas disease. It was reported back in 2012 that the bug, which has colonized poor housing communities in Central and South America, was moving North. Now the CDC says the kissing bugs have made their way into 26 states and remain on the move. Chagas, the disease the kissing bug can cause, is a parasitic disease that can lead to heart failure and fatal digestive disorders. Eleven different species of triatomine bugs have been identified in the US already.