Love is in the air…or is that lovebugs? What are lovebugs, exactly, and do they live in Ohio? Do you need to be worried about this romantically named insect?
Find out from the pest pros at ScherZinger Pest Control! We’re here to give you the scoop on all of the insects, rodents, and other pests that might plague your home.
What are Lovebugs?
“Lovebug” is often used to refer to a number of different insects. These include lovebugs, a species of march fly whose females and males pair off and attach together while flying, as well as the kissing bug, a species named for their tendency to bite people near their mouth.
Lovebugs (the march fly) are black flying insects with a red hump behind their heads. They are found in the southeastern states, especially near the Gulf of Mexico. These bugs are a nuisance pest: they don’t cause environmental or property damage, and they’re not a danger to human health. The biggest problem caused by this bug is their tendency to swarm near highways when mating, since they are a big pain to scrape off cars!
Kissing bugs are a type of reduviid bug. (Kissing bug is actually their colloquial name: the bug’s actual name is the triatomine bug.) This insect is often mistaken for a common Ohio insect—the stink bug—as they can have a similar shield-like appearance and coloring.
Unlike lovebugs, kissing bugs can be a danger. While kissing bugs usually feed on animals like raccoons, birds, rats, and opossum, they’ll also bite humans. Many kissing bugs carry a parasite harmful to human health: Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease.
Like bedbugs, kissing bugs typically bite when you’re sleeping.
What is Chagas disease?
Humans bitten by a kissing bug may develop Chagas disease. This disease can be both acute and lifelong.
Initially, an infected person might develop symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, body ache, rash, diarrhea, and vomiting. Because these symptoms can belong to any number of health problems, many people don’t realize they have Chagas disease.
Eventually, the disease can progress to the chronic phase, which can last for decades or even the person’s entire life. The chronic phase of the disease includes symptoms like cardiomyopathy, heart scarring, and rupture of the heart wall. In addition, Chagas disease can cause gastrointestinal problems, when infected tissue in the GI tract fails to move food through the body.
Do kissing bugs live in Ohio?
There are a dozen species of kissing bug living throughout the United States, but only one lives in southern Ohio.
Fortunately, kissing bugs are not considered a major problem in the United States. Most cases of Chagas disease caused by kissing bugs happen in Central and South America.
There are very few documented cases of Chagas disease acquired in the U.S. Most of these cases happened while the person was camping in a tent or cabin. To protect yourself while in the great outdoors, we recommend wearing long shirts and pants tucked into your socks. A good bug spray won’t go amiss either. (Ticks and tick-borne diseases are actually a much bigger problem in Ohio than any lovebug!)
To protect yourself and your pets at home, we recommend taking the same measures you would to keep most pests out of your home: sealing up cracks and crevices where bugs can get inside; keeping woodpiles, leaves, and mulch away from your foundation; and bringing pets in at night.
If you think you see a kissing bug inside your home, the CDC recommends trapping the bug in a container and treating the surface where you found the bug with a bleach solution. (If you’re not sure what bug you found, we can help you identify it!)
Need Help with Pest Problems?
Whatever pest is plaguing your home, we’re here to help.
Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.