Monday, November 7, 2016

Bloodsucking Conenose

Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose - REK
I found this bug crawling along the ground in the gravel beside our well house.  I could tell it was in the Reduviidae Family of Assassin Bugs but had to rely on Bugguide to finally identify it.

Chilled after an hour in the refrigerator.  Do you have one in yours?  - REK
It goes by the catchy name of Eastern Bloodsucking Conenose (EBC) - Triatoma sanguisugaIt tends to live in nests of small mammals, especially the Eastern Wood Rat, Neotoma floridana that commonly dwells in the well house.  It is also said to feed on bed bugs and other insects.  What is not to love about this guy?

Still chilling out - REK
The answer is that it considers us mammals and can bite humans as well.  Consider its alternate common names, Big Bed Bug or Mexican Bed Bug.  They are also known as "Kissing Bugs" for their habit of biting humans usually on the mouth or around the eyes, leaving painful sores.  It gets worse.  They are also known to carry Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasitic protozoan that causes Chagas disease in humans in Latin America.  The only good news for us is that this doesn't occur here as it is spread by the insect's frass (poop) and the North American variety does not defecate while feeding,  This is probably more than you wanted to know.

The female carries her eggs until mating and then eats a blood meal before becoming fertile.  She then scatters them around where they will grow through eight instars over two years before maturity, each instar requiring a blood meal before each molt, a total life cycle of three years.  And we thought Dracula was thirsty.  They can find the blood from any mammal including rats, opossum, raccoons, and other wild critters.  Because they do not succumb to the bites, these animals can continue to serve as hosts.  We are not their prime target, just another mammal, you know.

Warming up to take off.  - REK
They have incomplete metamorphosis, each stage resembling somewhat the adults, lacking mainly wings and sexual maturity.  They are a fact of life, but fortunately, our Conenoses are continent, i.e. don't poop while feeding so they won't infect you.  The good news is you aren't likely to have them around you unless you have rats.  The bad news is that we have rat neighbors.