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10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs (Triatominae) - Harmful Farm Insects

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10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs (Triatomine Bugs)

These insects go through an almost complete transformation before becoming adults. Kissing bugs (triatomine bugs) are harmful to humans and some animals; therefore, getting rid of them is vital.

Kissing bugs are from a subfamily called Triatominae and are the sole bloodsuckers in the family Reduviidae [1]. The rest of the members of this sect are predatory bugs.

There are almost 100 species in the subfamily, and while they are not like other bugs on plants, they are all dangerous to people and animals alike.

Lifecycle

These bugs belong to the Order Hemiptera [2]. Eggs are laid and later hatch into nymphs, of which they’ll need a blood meal to molt.

Nymphs molt five times, feeding heavily between each stage, and as it grows, it changes both in size and color.

By the time it reaches adulthood, it looks almost completely different from its first instar nymph form.

How to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs Naturally

The following are nine of the best ways to repel them while being eco-friendly.

1. Clear Out Wood and Rock Piles

Keep piles of rock and wood well away from your house and other locations nearby.

These are great places for the bugs to conceal themselves during the day and can help them get into your house.

Also, get rid of bush piles as soon as possible for the same reason.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

It is safer to use the food-grade version of this silica-based powder. Apply it to places where they might hide in a home and the garden where your pets have access.

Your pets could eat it. As a result, the food-grade version is safer if you have pets around.

However, if purchasing for organic gardening use only, the regular OMRI listed version is just fine. Follow the usage instructions on the package.

Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide that is mildly abrasive so it’s great against the critters because they’re soft-bodied. This means when they try walking on the powder, it will do a great deal of damage to them.

3. Bottle Trap

Now, this is a neat trick. Take a bottle, preferably one big enough to fit an electric candle in or bigger.

Keep the top. Add strips of non-stick tape vertically so the bugs can climb it. Kissing bugs can fly; however, they prefer to crawl.

Light attracts the triatomine bug. Therefore, put the light inside and turn it on. Next, put the top back on upside down, creating a funnel.

At nights the bugs will be drawn to the light and climb inside the bottle where they can’t climb back out.

4. Essential Oils

Oils won’t kill the bugs, but they will deter them.

Mix a couple of drops of a strong essential oil like mint or tea tree with water in a spray bottle and apply liberally everywhere you see them congregating.

Also, use in the garden and on entry points into your homes like window and door sills.

5. Pyrethrin

Another great and natural kissing bug control remedy, Pyrethrin is an organic insecticide derived from mums.

It has proven to be fatal because it targets their nervous system. They lose control of their body and eventually become paralyzed.

Mix with water and spray liberally on the bugs themselves. Pyrethrin is safe to use in organic gardening and around pets.

6. Shiny Container Trap

The critters like shiny things at night so this one is a sure-fire way to kill them.

Partially fill a shiny container with soapy water. The best to use are trays like bread pans or turkey pans.

Place this in a warm dark place where you’ve seen them and when night falls, turn on a lamp that will shine on the tray.

The bugs will fall in and suffocate in the water trying to reach for the light.

7. Neem

Neem extracts seem to work on all stages of the bugs from eggs to adults. Though it doesn’t kill them, it immunizes them against parasites that live inside them [3].

Simply coat the bugs with the oil using a spray made with a few drops of neem oil and water.

You can also use it as a deterrent by spraying it everywhere the bugs gather at night.

8. Garlic Spray

This is more of a kissing bug repellent than a way to kill them.

The smell of the spray, made from fresh garlic bulbs, water, and organic liquid soap, is so strong that it will keep them away.

Spray your plants and everywhere the bugs can get into your home.

9. Bug Zapper

A solar-powered bug zapper can be used inside or out. The light doesn’t produce heat, but it does attract them, shocking them on contact.

10. Seal Cracks and Crevices

Last but not least, this is a vital step to ensure Triatomine bugs don’t infest your home.

Seal every crack and crevice in your home, including the foundation and any pipes or conduits going outside.

Use heavy-duty materials or they will still be able to get in. Fine screens on the windows and caulk in the cracks are just two ways you can do this.

Kissing Bug Bite

Triatomine bugs are dangerous because they bite and draw blood from their victims.

For people who are allergic to bug bites, they can experience anaphylaxis if bitten. Also, people and animals can get Chagas disease if bitten [4]. It is no wonder people call the insect “the kissing disease bug.”

The kissing bug will bite on the face, lip, mouth, leg, or any exposed area. The bite mark resembles clusters of small bites.

When the bug bites, they defecate, and their feces can get into the affected area, or into an open wound like a scratch.

It can also be transmitted to the facial area where it’s absorbed into the body via the eyes and mouth by way of the mucous membranes of these body parts.

While this is disgusting, it’s not the feces that causes the disease, not directly. It’s the parasite hiding inside the feces. It gets into the bloodstream and can cause serious problems with a person’s heart or gastrointestinal tract.

While there’s no preventative medicine, no vaccine, for the disease, there is a cure — if caught in time. The cure is not to get bitten in the first place, and the only way to avoid such is to not have the bugs around.

Takeaway

Kissing bugs might have a cute name, but they are anything but. They pose a serious health risk to you and your loved ones, even dogs.

You must take measures as soon as you see one, drastic ones, to keep everyone safe.

Picture via Wikimedia

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature -- sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

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