One of the nastiest bugs that you can ever have in your home is the kissing bug.
But kissing bug is an outdoor bug. In nature, kissing bugs live in the burrows of rodents, such as wood rats, raccoons, armadillos, and opossums.
But what attracts kissing bugs to your home? And how do kissing bugs enter your house?
In this guide, you’ll find answers to these questions.
Plus, you’ll also learn the easiest way to get rid of kissing bugs in your home. And a whole lot more!
Keep reading to know it all.
What Attracts Kissing Bugs To Your Home?
With rapid urbanization and change in habitat, kissing bugs now rely more on human blood in the urban and semi-urban areas.
That makes them encroach on human homes and bite humans for getting their blood meals.
Also, kissing bugs can be present in your yard or garden. The chances of their presence will increase if there’s a pet house like a dog house, chicken coop, and poultry house in your yard.
Why? Because kissing bugs will feed on the blood of these animals and birds.
Kissing bugs are nocturnal, and they hide during the day. They undertake their feeding activity only during the night when the host is physically inactive.
In your yard or garden, kissing bugs will hide in places like underneath the organic debris and mulch, foliage, flower beds, and even underneath rocks and stones.
So, what makes kissing bugs intrude in your home?
Yes, the light from your home during the evening attracts kissing bugs to your home.
But how do kissing bugs get inside your home? Do they crawl in, or do kissing bugs fly inside?
The following question answers these questions.
How Do Kissing Bugs Enter Your Home?
Adult kissing bugs can fly. However, the young ones don’t have developed wings, so they can’t fly.
That’s why the young kissing bugs enter homes by crawling.
Attracted by the light from your home, kissing bugs will crawl into your home through the tiny gaps and cracks on the walls and door or window frames.
And they’re more likely to enter your home during the evening.
Apart from being attracted by the light, adult kissing bugs enter your homes during the periods of dispersal.
In entomological terms, the word dispersal means the movement of insects from one area to another to breed or lay eggs.
Research has shown that adult kissing bugs can be mobile even during the day while they’re in the dispersal process.
Attracted by the light, adult kissing bugs can also fly inside your home through the open doors and windows during the evening hours.
Once inside your home, where do kissing bugs go? Where do they hide?
Let’s find it out.
Where Do Kissing Bugs Hide In Your Home?
Now that you know what attracts kissing bugs to your home and do they sneak in, it’s time to find out where they hide in your home.
Unlike outdoors, your home has no burrows where the kissing bugs can hide.
So, inside your home, the kissing bugs look for the thin gaps to slide into and spend their day hours.
Inside your home, kissing bugs will hide in holes and crevices of bed, furniture, walls, and floor.
Female kissing bugs will also lay their eggs in these gaps and cracks.
They’ll also hide near pet beds if there are any gaps and cracks near the bed.
In these gaps in your home and near your bed, the kissing bugs will hide throughout the day. During the night, they’ll venture out for their blood meals.
It’s during your sleeping hours the kissing bugs leave behind a nasty bite on you while you’re asleep.
So, how do kissing bugs bite? And where do they bite?
Read on to find more about it.
How Do Kissing Bugs Bite?
Before telling you how kissing bug bite marks look, let us explain how a kissing bug bites.
First of all, kissing bugs don’t eat any solid food. Like the bed bugs and fleas, kissing bugs rely on the blood meals from their hosts to survive.
Carbon dioxide exhaled by their hosts attracts the kissing bugs.
Kissing bugs pick up the carbon dioxide their hosts emit very fast while the hosts are asleep. That draws the kissing bugs to their hosts.
This is the same methodology mosquitoes use.
Cold-blooded animals like reptiles don’t emit much carbon dioxide, so kissing bugs are more prone to bite warm-blooded animals, and of course, humans.
While you’re asleep, attracted by the carbon dioxide you’re exhaling, kissing bugs will emerge out of their hiding places.
Once the kissing bug is near you, it’ll extend its proboscis to your skin. The proboscis is an elongated sucking mouth part of an insect that is tubular and supple.
At the end of the proboscis, there’s a rostrum (or beak) with mandibles.
The kissing bug then pushes the mandibles to pierce your skin, which causes your skin’s epidermis to break.
Once the mandibles are inside your skin, the kissing bug will push a stylet through the rupture of the skin to search for blood capillaries.
If you sense this bite and move, the kissing bug will retract, wait and hide till you’re again stationary.
And after a few bites, the kissing bug will suck the blood.
Kissing bugs, most of the time, consume more blood than their body weight. They can continuously feed on your blood for 20 minutes.
Once through with feeding, the kissing bug can barely move because its body holds more blood than it can handle.
So, what does the kissing bug do?
It defecates at the feeding site, which can be your bed.
Sometimes they manage to barely get away from the feeding site to discard the excess amount of blood they had.
The proximity of defecation near the human host is one of the reasons for the transmission of the dangerous Chagas disease that kissing bugs spread.
The kissing bugs can bite anywhere on your body. They need access to the bare skin to suck the blood.
So, they can bite you anywhere, starting from your face to your feet.
To locate the capillaries kissing bugs probe on your skin. That makes them bite in multiple places on a definite area of the skin.
That’s why kissing bug bite marks will be a cluster of 2 or more (in some cases up to 20) bite marks.
The kissing bite mark looks like a cluster of red spots with raised skin lesions.
Is Kissing Bug Bite Painful?
There’s a myth surrounding kissing bugs that when they bite you, it’s excruciatingly painful.
The truth is, it’s not. Kissing bugs bite you when you’re asleep, and while at deep sleep, you won’t realize that they’re biting you.
However, the after-effects of kissing bugs bite can be very painful.
At the bite site, the swelling of the skin can make you experience severe itching and pain for 7 days or more.
People allergic to bug bites can experience this itching, pain, and skin lesions for nearly a month.
So, the delayed appearance of kissing bug bite marks, the ensuing pain, and itching account for the misconception that you feel a lot of pain when kissing bugs bite you.
How To Get Rid Of Kissing Bugs In Home?
Now that you know why and how kissing bugs enter your home and where they can hide, it’s time to find out how to get rid of them.
The best part?
Getting rid of kissing bugs is no big deal.
But you need to be meticulous and thorough while following the steps you’re about to find out.
The steps will not only get rid of kissing bugs but also prevent them from entering your home.
Here’s how to get rid of kissing bugs in 8 steps –
Seal The Gaps And Cracks On Your Home’s Walls and Floors
By now, you know that kissing bugs exploit the gaps in your home’s foundation, walls, door frames, and window frames to enter your home.
The first step is to deny entry to any possible kissing bugs in your yard to your home.
And one of the ways to do it is to seal those gaps with a quality sealant that kissing bugs can’t break.
Take a caulk gun and pour a strong sealant inside it. Then seal the gaps and cracks that you see in and around your home.
Bugs can’t chew through silicon-based sealants and last for at least a decade. You can use one of the silicon-based sealants to seal the cracks.
Don’t leave any single crevice on places like crawl spaces, patio decks, window sills, door frames, and on the walls facing your yard or garden.
Also, don’t overlook the floor, especially when it’s a wooden floor.
Not just kissing bugs but bugs like centipedes and even fleas can hide between the gaps of the wooden beams on wooden floors.
Over time, a gap develops at the floor and the wall junction. Seal those gaps too.
Kissing bugs inside the home are likely to be in your bed.
These bugs will hide in the gaps and cracks on the bed frames, headboards, underneath mattresses, and even in box springs.
It’s because the host, which can be you, sleeps there.
It’s easy for them to pick up the carbon dioxide that you exhale at night to locate you.
So, seal all the possible gaps that you see in your bed.
Also, check your dresser drawers, wardrobe, and closet. If there’s any gap, seal them too.
Install Window Screens With Fine Meshes To Stop Kissing Bugs From Flying Inside
Adult kissing bugs can fly. The light from your home will attract the kissing bugs to your home.
To stop them from flying in, install window screens with fine meshes.
The kissing bug season is primarily from May to July end. So, it’d be best if you install these window screens during this period.
Also, using door strippings or weather strippings to cover the gaps between the doors and the floors is a great idea to prevent kissing bugs from crawling inside your home.
Vacuum Clean Your Home To Get Rid Of Hiding Kissing Bugs
Vacuum clean your home thoroughly to remove any kissing bugs hiding inside your home.
Be slow while vacuuming your bed. Cover all the areas of your bed, including the bed frame and the headboard.
If your bed has a storage space, ensure that empty the storage and vacuum clean the interiors.
Do the same with all storage places like drawers, chests, and wardrobes.
If there are kissing bugs inside your home, then they must be hiding in these places.
The vacuum cleaner will suck them off from these places.
Also, kissing bugs lay eggs inside the gaps and crevices in your home. Vacuuming will remove them too.
One important thing to keep in mind: Dispose of the vacuum cleaner’s dust bag away from your property.
Throwing the dust bag in a trash bin inside your property will only allow the kissing bugs to get out of the bag and re-enter your home.
Clean Your Yard And Garden To Remove Any Hiding Kissing Bugs
Outdoors in the yard, kissing bugs will hide underneath foliage, rocks, organic debris, soil beds, and under the mulch.
Clean your yard to remove any kissing bugs hiding in these places.
Remove or chop off any overgrown bushes, especially the bushes and shrubs near your home’s foundation.
These overgrown bushes and shrubs are home to many bugs and flies waiting to get inside your home.
Also, ensure that the moisture and dampness in your yard are low.
It’s because moisture attracts bugs to your yard and from your yard, these bugs can eventually land up in your home.
A balanced dampness level in the yard keeps a lot of bugs away.
If there’s a firewood pile in your yard close to your home, take them away. Kissing bugs hide in the firewood pile and can sneak inside your home.
Keep the firewood pile on a solid platform so that it’s not touching the ground. And always protect firewood from water.
An unprotected and damp firewood pile is home to invasive pests like roaches, termites, ants, and even kissing bugs.
Pro Tip – While cleaning the yard, always use a shovel, wear gloves, and shoes to prevent kissing bugs from having access to your skin.
Use Sodium Vapor Bulbs Or LED Lights On Outdoor Places Like Balcony And Patio
LED, and especially sodium vapor bulbs, don’t attract bugs because they produce less heat.
Also, the wavelength from these lights tends to get longer, which the kissing bugs find hard to pick.
It’d be best to use these types of lighting outdoors. It’ll not attract kissing bugs and many other bugs, flies, and beetles that are drawn to light.
Use Pyrethroid Based Insecticides On Kissing Bugs To Kill Kissing Bugs
Never ever squish a kissing bug if you see it.
It’s because the discharges that come out when you squash it can pose a severe threat to your skin.
There’s no special insecticide spray to kill kissing bugs. But pyrethroid-based insecticide sprays kill kissing bugs instantly.
Ensure There Are No Rodent Infestation Or Bird Nests In Your Home
Rodents and birds are primary sources of blood for kissing bugs.
Their presence can also attract kissing bugs inside your home.
In fact, rodents and bird nests will not only expose you to the risk of kissing bug bites but also rodent mite bites and bird mites.
So, get rid of rodents and bird nests inside your home.
And, Finally, Check Your Pets
Let’s face it, you want your furry family member to have fun in the yard.
But that exposes your pet to the risk of not just kissing bugs latching onto the fur but also other biting bugs like fleas and ticks.
So, it’d be best if you check that your pets don’t have these bugs latching onto its body.
Limiting the amount of time your pet spends on your bed (it’s better not to let your pet get on the bed) will significantly reduce the chances of bug bites you’ll get while you’re asleep.
And to protect your pet from kissing bugs bites, don’t let your pet sleep outdoors at night.
Do Kissing Bugs Infest?
Fortunately, kissing bugs don’t bring with them the risks of infestation like bed bugs and roaches.
Although the sight of one kissing bug in the home can indicate that there might be a few more, you don’t need to worry.
So, what to do if you find a kissing bug? Instead of squishing it, use a pyrethroid-based insecticide on the kissing to kill it instantly.
Or, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the kissing bug.
What Eats Kissing Bugs?
Many of our readers have asked for natural predators of kissing bugs that they can have in their yard.
Some lizards like the skink lizard, Mediterranean gecko, toads, and tree frogs that you’d see in your yard or garden are common predators of kissing bugs.
Like the kissing bugs, these are all nocturnal. So, they’re highly efficient in killing and eating kissing bugs.
So, if you see any of these being in your yard, it’d be a wise choice not to kill them.
They’ll are all helpful to keep bugs and pests away from your yard and garden.
Where Do Kissing Bugs Live?
Kissing bugs are in the US since the 1800s. These bugs are also common in Mexico, South America, and Central America.
Kissing bugs are outdoor bugs that enter your home attracted by the light.
Also, during the periods of dispersal, kissing bugs can enter your home.
They primarily feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, but inside your home, they won’t shy away from biting you and sucking your blood.
In this post, you learned where kissing bugs hide in your home and how to get rid of kissing bugs.
There are also tips and information on avoiding and preventing kissing from entering your home in 8 easy steps.
Following the post laid out on this post will solve the kissing problems in your home and yard.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.