Entomology (Study of Bugs)/assassin bugs


my son was bitten by an assassin bug in farwell, michigan (basically the center of the state). it flew inside and directly at his hand in half a second, biting his fingertip. i might be a little paranoid, but this 'chagas disease' has my curiousity.

Dear James - Unless you were to get a blood transfusion from someone infected with Chagas' disease (aka American trypanosomiasis), your risk in Michigan is about as close to zero as it can get. Only assassin bugs in the subfamily Triatominae vector Chagas' disease, and although there is a species in this genus that might possibly occur in Michigan (Triatoma sanguisuga - see http://tinyurl.com/l753suz), there would be no risk in a bite such as you describe, as transmission only occurs when the bug defecates during feeding and feces get rubbed into the bite wound, and in the northern part of its range, this species does not defecate while feeding - see http://tinyurl.com/lladhs2. Overall, risk of insect-transmitted Chagas' disease anywhere in the USA appears extremely low - http://tinyurl.com/kgh2qeh

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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