Museum of Science and Industry

I think Charles Darwin was a pretty neat guy: an adventurer who traveled around the world and developed the theory of natural selection. But even he, who grew up loving natural history, found it "most disgusting" (written in his journal while on expedition in Argentina) to be bitten by what was probably a kissing bug. Good thing we don’t get kissing bug attacks here by us, right? Well... according to scientists at the University of Vermont, kissing bugs may be slowly creeping further north.

Kissing bugs are often found in South and Central America, and there are some species present in the United States as well. One concern is that kissing bugs are known to carry the parasite that causes Chagas disease – which some surmise was linked to Darwin’s demise! In the study, the scientists were surprised to find that the North American kissing bugs, which were thought not to feed often on humans, actually contained human blood (and often the Chagas-causing parasite) at surprising rates. And with climate change, more of the species in South and Central America, where Chagas disease is more common, may be able to move further north.

Even if you don’t decide to become a great scientist like Darwin, you may still be able to have something special in common with him someday – a gross insect bite!

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