A disease-carrying insect is forging into new territory, giving public health officials reasons to be concerned about illness and climate change. The kissing bug has been found in parts of Delaware.

It also goes by “assassin bug” and its scientific name: triatoma.  They are typically found in South America, Central America, Mexico, and the southern United States, but the CDC has noted that the bug has been reported in more than 25 states. Their bite can lead to Chagas disease, which is potentially fatal.

Nocturnal and bloodsucking, the kissing bug likes to feed near the faces of mammals, and generally at night. Humans are susceptible to rubbing bug feces near the bite area into open areas on the body. If the bug is carrying the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, it is possible to become infected with Chagas.

The CDC states that not all kissing bugs are carriers of the parasite, and it is extremely difficult for them to transmit the parasite to humans even if they are; Chagas infection rates are low in the United States.

However, because the bug has become so prevalent where it was not before, you can take some precautions against an infestation. Make sure cracks and crevices are sealed to your home, keep your doors closed, and get rid of any brush near your house, porch, or trees.

Pets can bring the bugs indoors too. Learn more about the kissing bug’s journey up north and see what these insects look like by clicking below. They’re not boxelders!

Have you ever encountered one of these bloodsuckers? Are you on alert for them in your area?