Family Triatominae – around 130 species
- Similar to bed bugs, but generally much larger (up to 2cm for an adult).
- Body is very thin and flattened unless it has recently fed, in which case it will have a large abdomen swollen with blood.
- Elongated head with long antennae and proboscis for feeding on blood.
- These bugs show incomplete metamorphosis – developing from an egg through 5 nymphal stages to an adult.
- The nymphal stages resemble smaller versions of the adult, but lack the wings.
- The total lifecycle can vary from 4-24 months, depending on species and climate.
- Haematophagous – feeds on human or animal blood
- Associated with the spread of the protozoan parasites responsible for Chagas Disease.
- Prefers to feed on the face and often defecates straight after feeding.
- Feeding may take up to 25 minutes.
- The disease is spread by scratching the bites which are contaminated with faecal matter.
- Hides in dark crevices near the host during day time – feeds at night.