Do milkweed assassin bugs carry Chagas?

Answered by Cody Janus

Milkweed assassin bugs, also known as Zelus longipes, are not known to carry or transmit Chagas disease. Chagas disease is primarily transmitted by triatomine bugs, also known as kissing bugs, which belong to a different family of insects called Reduviidae.

Milkweed assassin bugs get their name from their hunting behavior rather than their role in disease transmission. These insects have long mouthparts that they use to pierce their prey, which can include other bugs, caterpillars, and flies. Once they pierce their prey, they inject a paralyzing poison that immobilizes their victim, allowing them to feed on their prey at their leisure.

While milkweed assassin bugs may look similar to kissing bugs, they do not have the same habits or ecological niche. Kissing bugs are typically nocturnal and feed on the blood of animals, including humans, which can lead to the transmission of Chagas disease. Milkweed assassin bugs, on the other hand, are more active during the day and primarily feed on other insects.

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is typically transmitted through the feces of infected kissing bugs. When a kissing bug feeds on a human or animal, it defecates near the bite wound, allowing the parasites to enter the body through the broken skin or mucous membranes. This can lead to infection if the feces are rubbed into the bite wound or into the eyes, mouth, or open sores.

It is important to note that while milkweed assassin bugs do not transmit Chagas disease, it is still advisable to avoid handling them or any other insects that may carry diseases. It is always a good practice to wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with any insects or bugs, especially if you have been bitten or have a break in the skin.

Milkweed assassin bugs do not carry Chagas disease. They are named assassins for their hunting behavior, where they pierce their prey and inject a paralyzing poison. Chagas disease is primarily transmitted by kissing bugs, which belong to a different family of insects. It is essential to be aware of the differences between these insects and take necessary precautions to prevent any potential disease transmission.