First Time User? Enroll now.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, our visitor policy is evolving as well. Get full details.
For the most current information, please visit our Coronavirus resource pages.
Home > Health Library > Kissing Bugs
Kissing bugs are wingless insects that are about 0.75 in. (1.9 cm) long. Kissing bugs are dark brown or black with red or orange spots along the edge of their bodies. They are also called assassin bugs or cone-nosed bugs. Like mosquitoes, kissing bugs feed on blood from animals or people.
Kissing bugs have that name because their bites are often found around the mouth. They usually hide during the day and are active at night when they feed. They can go for weeks without feeding.
Kissing bugs can carry a parasite that causes Chagas disease, but this is not common in the United States. Itching from the bites can be so bad that some people will scratch enough to cause breaks in the skin that get infected easily. The bites can also cause a serious allergic reaction in some people.
Kissing bugs are found in warm southern states of the U.S. and in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Kissing bugs can hide in cracks and holes in beds, floors, walls, and furniture. They are most likely to be found:
Kissing bugs can cause patches of bites, often around the mouth. The bites are usually painless, but they may swell and look like hives. Itching from the bites may last a week.
Look also for these other signs:
Home treatment can help stop the itching from kissing bug bites and prevent an infection. You can:
Kissing bugs can be hard to get rid of. Bugs can hide in cracks and crevices in the mattress, bed frame, and box spring. They can spread into cracks and crevices in the room and lay their eggs. For these reasons, it is best to call a professional insect control company for treatment choices. The usual treatment is the use of an insecticide that kills the bugs. It is best to prevent bugs from getting into your house:
Current as of:
March 3, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineH. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of: March 3, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.