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True Bugs

Bugs As A Health Hazard

Bed bugs (family Cimicidae) are wingless bugs with a body length of about 0.2 in (6 mm). Bed bugs feed by sucking the blood of birds or mammals. Various species will bite humans, and they can be serious pests in homes, hotels, and other places, especially the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius). Bed bugs come out at night, hiding during the day in cracks and crevices in walls and furniture. The bites of these insects are very irritating, but bed bugs are not known to be a vector of human diseases.

Chagas' disease is common in parts of Central and South America, and is spread by blood-sucking bugs in the genus Triatoma, especially T. infestans. These are sometimes known as kissing bugs because of their tendency to bite near the mouth of their victims. Chagas' disease is a debilitating malady of humans, and is caused by a pathogenic trypanosome, Trypanosoma cruzi, a type of parasitic protozoan that lives in the blood. Chagas' disease is characterized by a recurring fever, and often a enfeebling inflammation of the heart muscles.


Resources

Books

Arnett, Ross H. American Insects. New York: CRC Publishing, 2000.

Carde, Ring, and Vincent H. Resh, eds. Encyclopedia of Insects. San Diego: Academic Press, 2003.

Lane, R., and R. Crosskey. Medical Insects and Arachnids. New York: Chapman and Hall, 1993.

Lehane, M. Biology of Blood-sucking Insects. London: Unwin-Hyman, 1991.

Metcalf, R. L., and R. A. Metcalf. Destructive and Useful Insects. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992.


Bill Freedman

KEY TERMS

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Aposematic

—Refers to a bright coloration of an animal, intended to draw the notice of a potential predator, and to warn of the dangers of toxicity or foul taste.

Incomplete metamorphosis

—This is characterized by three life history stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The nymphs of true bugs resemble the adults in form, but they are not capable of reproduction.

Vector

—Any agent, living or otherwise, that carries and transmits parasites and diseases.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Toxicology - Toxicology In Practice to TwinsTrue Bugs - Biology Of True Bugs, Common Families Of Terrestrial Bugs In North America, Common Families Of Aquatic Bugs In North America