12 Bugs That Look Like Kissing Bugs

12 Bugs That Look Like Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs (Conenose bugs or Vampire bugs) are known to bite people and transmit Chagas disease. Additionally, they use their long mouthpieces to pierce their prey.

You can find numerous bugs that look like Kissing bugs but behave differently and have a different diet. For instance, Kissing bugs feed on blood, while most similar species are entirely harmless to people and don’t carry dangerous bacteria and parasites. Let’s find out how to identify each of them.

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Bugs that look like kissing bugs

Bug type Size Color
Kissing bugs 0.50 to 1.50 inch (12.7 – 38 mm) Dark brown or black
Flat bugs 0.12 to 0.43 inches (3 – 11 mm) Yellow, orange, or brownish
Leaf-footed bugs 0.75 to 1 inch (19 – 25.4 mm) Gray to brown
Scentless plant bugs 0.50 inches (12.7 mm) Bluish-black, brown-black, or black
Boxelder bug 0.50 inches (12.7 mm) Dark brown to black
Chinch bugs 0.17 to 0.20 inches (4.3 – 5 mm) Gray-black with red legs and shiny white wings
Brown marmorated stink bugs 0.62 to 0.75 inches (15.7 – 19 mm) Mottled green or brown-grayish
Bordered plant bugs 0.50 to 0.67 inches (13 – 17 mm) Matte gray to black with an orange border
Damsel bugs Females – 0.35 to 0.50 inches

(8.9 – 12.7 mm)

Males 0.30 to 0.40 inches

(7.6 – 10 mm)

Grey to light brown
Wheel bugs 1 to 1.50 inches (19 – 38 mm) Gray or brown
Longhorn beetles 0.75 to 1.50 inches (19 – 38 mm) Depends on the species
Masked hunter bugs 0.70 to 0.90 inches (18 – 23 mm) Dark brown to black
Western conifer  seed bugs 0.75 inches (19 mm) Dull brownish

Kissing Bugs

Kissing Bugs 1

Kissing bugs are nocturnal blood-sucking insects that transmit Chagas disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi. Besides, they release specific proteins after biting the host, causing anaphylaxis in sensitive people.

Most of the 130 species live in the Americas, mainly in:

However, you can find a few species in Africa and Asia. Their local nicknames are Barbeiros, Pitos, Vinchucas, Chinches, and Chipos.

Unlike other highly beneficial Assassin bugs from the Reduviidae family, Kissing bugs from the Triatomine subfamily are pests and potentially dangerous disease vectors.

You can recognize eleven Kissing bug species that live in the US, including three of the most common:

  • Triatoma sanguisuga
  • Triatoma protracta
  • Triatoma gerstaeckeri

Kissing bugs are dark brown or black, typically 0.50 to 1.50 inch (12.7 – 38 mm) long flying insects with conical heads. They have developed wings, flat round abdomens, and unique orange, red, and yellow markings on the back.

These pests are active from May to July when entering houses and looking for hosts. However, they can stay there even during winter when the inside temperatures are high enough. Besides homes, they also live in several other places, such as:

  • Under cement, piles of wood and rock, or beneath the tree bark
  • Beneath porches
  • In animal burrows, dog houses, and rodent nests
  • Inside chicken coops

They bite humans, wild animals, and dogs around the mouth region and feed on their blood. Interestingly, some species can live approximately seven months without food.

Even though their bites are harmless and painless, infected feces rubbed into the skin or around the eyes cause health issues. The first symptoms of Chagas disease appear after several days, followed by swelling and intense itching.

Approximately 30,000 new cases appear annually in the Americas, including 8,600 newborns. The disease has acute and chronic phases followed by cardiac and gastrointestinal complications. With an annual average of 12,000 deaths, you can consider this pest bug dangerous.

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Bugs That Look Like Kissing Bugs

You can recognize a few insects similar to Kissing bugs. Unlike these blood-suckers, most of these bugs are harmless, so you should know when to panic and when it is unnecessary. Let’s take a look.

1. Flat bugs (Fungus bugs)

Flat bugs 1

These yellow, orange, or brownish bugs are 0.12 to 0.43 inches (3 to 11 mm) long. Thanks to their flattened bodies, they are considered the most similar to Kissing bugs. However, they are smaller and of a different color.

The most significant difference is in black marks on their back, resembling tree bark. You can find these creatures under decaying tree barks and leaves, feeding on fungi and mildew.

Bark beetles that cause tree infestation produce pheromones and attract Flat bugs. That way, these insects discover damaged trees that provide plenty of food for them. These harmless creatures also occupy hidden places, live underneath wood logs and stones, and bite you only when disturbed.


2. Leaf-footed bugs

Leaf-footed bugs 1

Leaf-footed bugs are 0.75 to 1 inch (19 – 25.4 mm) long diurnal insects that come in gray and brown shades. They have variable body shapes, and you can recognize two types, elongated insects and those with oval-like bodies similar to Kissing bugs.

They are harmless to people and never bite or lay eggs inside the house but feed on tree sap. However, you can spot them on your windowsills while looking for warm places to overwinter.


3. Scentless plant bugs (Red-shouldered bugs)

Scentless plant bugs 1

With a length of 0.50 inches (12.7 mm), Scentless plant bugs are slightly shorter than Kissing bugs. Their bodies are bluish-black, brown-black, or black with recognizable red markings on the back. On the other hand, young have red bodies, and only their heads are black.

These insects’ habitats are in California and Texas, where you can find them under trees feeding on seeds. You can also see them crawling on weeds and trees in orchards and gardens without infesting agricultural fields.


4. Boxelder bugs

Boxelder bugs 1

Boxelder bugs are 0.50 inches (12.7 mm) long insects living in North America. They have elongated and flattened, dark brown to black bodies and flat wings with red or orange lines along the edges.

You can see these harmless insects in spring and summer on boxelder trees, maple, and ash trees. You can expect them to start looking for shelter in the autumn, and your home can be an ideal place for this purpose.

Even though they neither bite nor cause any damage, you may have a problem removing their feces stains. Additionally, they horribly smell when you squash them.

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5. Chinch bugs

Chinch bugs 1

Chinch bugs are 0.17 to 0.20 inches (4.3 – 5 mm) long North American insects with gray-black bodies, a whitish band on the abdomen, and red legs. The wings on flattened bodies are shiny white, but not all of these bugs can fly.

You can spot them living in groups in dry and warm places, like lawns and sidewalks. Since these insects destroy the grass, you can consider them pests. Unfortunately, eliminating them is almost impossible since they are highly resistant to pesticides.


6. Brown marmorated stink bugs (Shield bugs)

Brown marmorated stink bugs 1

Stink bugs were Japanese and Korean native bugs that appeared in Pennsylvania in the 1990s. The most common type is Brown marmorated stink bugs.

These bugs live throughout North America nowadays. They use their long mouthparts to consume flower and fruit juices but can also eat small insects. These horrible pests cause massive damage to fruit plantations and can harm plants in your garden.

They are approximately 0.62 to 0.75 inches (15.7 – 19 mm) long insects that never bite humans. You can recognize them for mottled brownish-grey or sometimes green shield-like bodies with humps on the back.

They often enter homes during cold days but never lay eggs inside. Avoid squashing them to prevent facing an incredibly horrible smell produced in their scent glands placed under their thoraxes.


7. Bordered plant bugs

Bordered plant bugs 1

These insects have matte gray to black stout and flattened bodies with an orange border on the back and rounded abdomen. They are typically 0.50 to 0.67 inches (13 – 17 mm) long, but some species of about one hundred existing can reach 2.15 inches (55 mm).

Since these ground-dwelling creatures are phytophagous, they feed on plant liquid tissue, fruit, weeds, and seeds. Therefore, you can usually notice them near plants, trees, and some bush types during the late spring and summer.

Bordered plant bugs are native to the coastal regions of the US. They never enter houses, despite the season and outdoor temperatures. Additionally, you shouldn’t expect them to bite you or your pet, but they stink when feeling threatened. It can be pretty awkward and unpleasant for your dog to chew and swallow them.


8. Damsel bugs

Damsel bugs 1

Damsel bugs are grey to light brown insects with flattened, pear-shaped bodies commonly living in North America. Females are a bit more sizable and 0.35 to 0.50 inches (8.9 – 12.7 mm) long, while males reach 0.30 to 0.40 inches (7.6 – 10 mm) on average.

Unlike blood-sucking Kissing bugs, these insects use needlelike mouthparts to feed on corn earworms, true bugs, aphids, moths, leafhoppers, beetles, and mites.

Besides consuming their prey’s body fluids, these bugs also enjoy nibbling plants and eating insect eggs, various larvae, armyworms, and caterpillars. When staying without food for two weeks, they start eating each other.


9. Wheel bugs (North American wheel bugs)

Wheel bugs 1

Like Kissing bugs, Wheel bugs belong to the Reduviidae family but are members of the Harpactorinae subfamily. These grayish-brown Assassin bugs are 1 to 1.50 inches (19 – 38 mm) long, putting them on the list of North America’s most sizable terrestrial true bugs.

These beneficial garden predators are sexually dimorphic, and females are slightly more sizable than males. You can quickly recognize them thanks to red-orange markings along their abdomen and the unique wheel-like crest on their thorax.

They are voracious predators and typically feed on caterpillars, wasps, beetles, cabbage worms, and leaf miners. However, they can bite you when disturbed, so you should be careful with them. Their bite is incredibly painful, thanks to the intense toxin they produce to kill their prey.


10. Longhorn beetle

Longhorn beetle 1

Longhorn beetles are 0.75 to 1.50 inches (19 – 38 mm) long insects that come in various colors, depending on the species. They are native to Korea and China but are also common in the US.

Their oversized antennae resembling the Texas longhorn’s horns are recognizable, hence the name. Without them, they look almost the same as Kissing bugs. However, their feeding habits are entirely different.

So, you can see these invasive bugs eating plants, preferably leaves of hardwood trees, like horse chestnut, willow, birch, elm, ash, maple, and poplar. After laying eggs beneath the bark, they severely damage the tree host.

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11. Masked hunter bugs

Masked hunter bugs 1

Image Credit: uwm

Masked hunters are dark brown to black flying insects reaching about 0.70 to 0.90 inches (18 – 23 mm) in length. They belong to the Reduviidae family, so it is not surprising that they incredibly remind Kissing bugs.

Nowadays, this Assassin bug type is common in North America, although it originates in Europe. Insects typically enter homes when outside temperatures are too high in summer or when artificial light attracts them. Additionally, they occur inside houses infested by Bed bugs, their favorite food.

Dust, mud, and debris attach to their sticky bodies while crawling around, making them masked and hard to spot. Besides long antennae and thin legs, you can see their stout beak-like mouthparts intended to feed on insects.

Be careful since these bugs can bite you when considering you a threat. Bites are incredibly painful, but there is no possibility of causing diseases because they never transmit pathogens.


12. Western conifer seed bugs

Western conifer seed bugs 1

Western conifer seed bugs are dull brownish, 0.75 inches (19 mm) long nuisance insects that look like Kissing bugs. In early fall, you can find them flying and invading houses across North America to find shelter and safely overwinter there.

Luckily, they hide in cracks, consume sprouting cones and seeds, and never suck human blood. You can hear them buzzing like a bumblebee and smell the nasty odor they produce near you.



Kissing bugs are blood-sucker insects that may cause anaphylaxis in sensitive people and transmit Chagas disease. With an annual average of 12,000 deaths they cause, you can consider this bug dangerous. On the other hand, numerous harmless and beneficial insects remind this pest, so you should learn to differentiate them.

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