Romantic Nickname, Nasty Bug. It’s Reportedly in Montana and Could Make You Sick
Some bugs freak me out.
I don't mind things like daddy-long-legs, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, etc. But when it comes to some of the really freaky-looking bugs, I get a little jumpy. Like those little "pincher bugs" (earwigs) that appear so intimidating with their big claws out front, ready to snap! They're generally harmless to humans. Centipedes are so bizarre looking and some of the strange bugs you'll find in your garden or under a rotten log in the forest appear almost alien-like. They seem so... sinister. A few of them are dangerous.
Are kissing bugs showing up in Montana?
"Kissing bugs" are anything but warm and cuddly. Alternately known as Assassin bugs or love bugs. Assassin bug seems to be a more fitting description. Generally found in the southern US, KTVQ reported in 2019 that the bugs were slowly marching north. Four years ago they had reached Kansas. Are they here now?
The CDC map indicates that kissing bugs have been confirmed as far north as Nebraska and Colorado. According to a recent Facebook post from a gardener in Montana, they are now being spotted in the Treasure State. The poster (who lives in Sula, a small community in Ravalli County) wrote,
No it wasn't a stink bug, box elder, conifer seed bug or any other similar looking leaf-footed tree bug. I'm familiar with the distinctions.
The kissing bug can carry a nasty infection called Chagas' Disease. The CDC says there are 11 different species of kissing bugs and their identifying markings are all slightly different. Here's one example, below.
You can catch the infection from the kissing bug's poop.
This is gross. The kissing bug doesn't infect humans directly from its bite. You see, when it bites you it also poops. It's the poop that can transmit Changas' Disease into the bite wound or from scratching around the bite. Texas A&M explains,
Kissing bugs are insects that may be infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease... Kissing bugs are mostly active during the night. They are called kissing bugs because people used to think that they mostly bite around the mouth or eyes — like a kiss! Kissing bugs do not just bite on the face; they can bite anywhere on the body that they can access.
According to their research, about 50% of the bugs reportedly carry the disease, which sounds like not much fun to get. If they are in fact showing up in Montana, be aware. If you find one, report it to your local County Extension Office or college entomology department. Collecting a sample (dead or alive) would probably be helpful.