Second-best is better than nothing: Cockroaches as a Viable Food Source for the Kissing Bug Triatoma recurva (Hemiptera: Reduviidae)

Justin O. Schmidt, Patricia L. Dorn, Stephen A. Klotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Kissing bugs in the genus Triatoma are obligate blood feeders that feed mainly on vertebrate blood and have lost the predatory lifestyle found in other reduviid bugs.They occasionally also feed on the hemolymph of arthropods, especially during the first and second instar stages.The largest kissing bug species in the United States, Triatoma recurva (Stål) (Hemiptera: Reduviidae), is poorly known and was chosen to investigate its ability to feed and develop on a diet of cockroach hemolymph. Molting from first instar individuals to second instars readily occurred at approximately the same rate reported for the species feeding on mammalian blood. Subsequent instars also fed on and survived on cockroach hemolymph with some individuals maturing to adults. In the larger instars, development time and survival rates were reduced relative to the results reported in the literature for mammalian-blood-fed individuals. Two other species of kissing bugs, Triatoma protracta (Uhler) and T. rubida (Uhler) failed to survive on cockroach hemolymph with most individuals failing to molt from the first instar stage. Although T. recurva does not thrive on a diet limited to hemolymph of cockroaches, it appears to be an unusual species in which cockroaches might be a primary source of nutrition for smaller individuals and are a viable exclusive source of nutrition for all immatures. At a minimum during times of limited availability of vertebrate blood sources, the presence of cockroaches enhances survival opportunities. Efforts to control populations of this kissing bug species likely will be improved with additional control of cockroach populations in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-655
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Chagas disease
  • Triatoma protracta
  • Triatoma rubida
  • Triatominae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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