The Beneficial True Bugs That Prey On Insect Pests Have Some Pest Relatives That Do Very Nasty Things To Sleeping Humans Within Homes
It has been estimated that somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 arthropod species belong to the order Hemiptera. Some of the most well known Hemiptera species include cicadas, leafhoppers, waterbugs, and a variety of stink bug species. Due to their natural habit of preying on insect pests that damage plants and/or invade homes, a large proportion of Hemiptera species are considered beneficial on residential and commercial properties. However, a small minority of Hemiptera species are known insect pests of homes and buildings, and an even smaller number pose a serious public health threat.
Hemipteran insect species are characterized by their piercing beak-like mouthparts that they use to penetrate plant tissue in order to suck out sweet-tasting sap and other internal plant fluids. Most Hemiptera species are herbivores that rely solely on plant juices for sustenance, but a small number of Hemiptera species are carnivores that use their formidable mouthparts to pierce skin in order to collect blood meals from humans and animals including cats and dogs. This latter group of parasitic Hemiptera pests include kissing bugs, common bed bugs, tropical bed bugs, bat bugs, and other close bed bug relatives.
While bed bugs don’t transmit disease to humans, they are considered a public health threat due to the relatively high number of bite victims who develop a serious allergic reaction in response to proteins in bed bug saliva. Also, studies show that the stress of living within bed bug-infested conditions leaves victims vulnerable to lasting mental health issues. In addition to bed bugs, kissing bugs are now considered a growing public health threat in the southern half of the US where researchers have determined that around half to well over half of all specimens collected from local kissing bug populations carry the disease-causing parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi.
Kissing bugs invade homes at night where they bite sleeping humans, often before defecating near the wound. Kissing bug feces contain T. cruzi, and itching bites often causes the feces to become smeared within the wound, resulting in the transmission of a disease known as chagas disease. The kissing bug pest species commonly known as the eastern bloodsucking conenose bug (Triatoma sanguisuga) is prevalent throughout Georgia where they invade homes, but luckily for residents, this species is considered more of a nuisance pest than a medical threat.
Have you ever encountered at least one kissing bug within your home?