Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Arthro-Pod EP 80: Chagas disease and kissing bugs

Tune in today to hear the Arthro-Pod gang discuss Chagas disease and kissing bugs. All the hosts have had questions asked of them about this disease and the insect that can help vector the causal parasite. There are lots of stories out there about the dangers but what is the truth about Chagas in much of the US? We'll cover the parasite, the disease, and kissing bugs like the eastern bloodsucking conenose in this episode!

Triatoma infestans one of the important vectors of Chagas ()

Show notes

Disease: Chagas disease 

Parasite: Trypanosoma cruzi 

Reservoirs: Mammals 

Vectors: Triatomine bugs or kissing bugs  

Reduviidae are a family otherwise known as assassin bugs that are Hemipterans. They have three segmented beak used to stab prey, which are mostly insects. According to Bug Guide, there are 195 species, 55 genera including wheel bug, jagged ambush bug, four spurred assassin bug (Zelus), masked hunter, and Sinea species (no common name)  

Commonly misidentified non-reduviids: Western conifer seed bug, squash bugs,  


Wheel bugs are often misidentified as kissing bugs (Photo by Jody Green)

When people spot squash bugs they sometimes fear they are kissing bugs (photo by Jody Green)

Kissing bugs 

Texas A&M - Kissing Bugs & Chagas Disease in the United States 

CDC – Chagas Disease 


PJ. Liesch from UW Madison Department of Entomology –  


Research papers: 

Bern et al. 2011 – Trypanosoma cruzi and Chagas’ disease in the United States 

Klotz et al. 2014 – Kissing bugs in the United States: Risks for vector-borne disease in humans 

Salazar et al. 2015 – Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) as vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi 

Questions? Comments? 
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This episode is freely available on and is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.

Beginning/ending theme: "There It Is" by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0