They may carry the microbe that causes Chagas desease (Trypanosoma cruzi) in fact, studies showed that
about 40 % of the Kissing Bugs around Tucson are infected
with Trypanosoma cruzi. .But so far they are not known to transmit it to humans here in AZ. Behavioral differences from tropical species may play a role.
Some possible cases in Texas were reported (there are different species of Kissing Bugs there, the same genus, Triatoma, plus some others.)
|Female Triatoma rubida in Tucson, AZ|
|Nymph of T. rubida, stilll flightless|
|Side view of the elongate head of a Kissing Bug (conenose) At rest, the sucking mouth parts are folded back. They stretch forward when in use. Photo by Eric Eaton (detail)|
so they are True Bugs, not Beetles. One characteristic of that group are the piercing, sucking mouth parts.
Several other True Bugs are often mistaken for Kissing Bugs
Let's separate the Kissing Bugs, also called Conenoses, from similar True Bugs that are often mixed up with the real thing.
|Eastern Boxelder Bugs Photo by Seth Ausubel|
Rhopalidae (Scentless Plant Bugs) and similar Lygaeidae (Seed Bugs) are very common in Arizona. They feed on leaves and milky, fresh seeds piercing them with their probosces and sucking the juice.
|Some of our Leaf-footed Bugsdon't have actual 'leaves' on their legs|
|Some Assassin Bugs found in Arizona may resemble Kissing Bugs|
My blog should help you to better identify the bugs you find. To learn more about Chagas disease and the status of vector infection in AZ, I suggest the paper 'Infection of Kissing Bugs with Trypanosoma cruzi, Tucson, Arizona, USA' by Carolina Reisenman et al.