I received some more interesting feedback from my friend Alfredo Medina of "Diario de Alfredo". He told me to watch out for a bug he calls "Pintos". I believe the bug that he is referring to is what is known locally where I live as "juansanchez" (one word with all lower case letters). It is a flat bug with red and black markings that swarms in May and June and is attracted to bright lights at night. It can also inflict a very painful bite (which is actually a stab wound) if it is threatened. This bug is a very serious menace because it is a vector carrier for a debilitating disease called "Chagas" which is an invasive parasite called "Trypanosoma cruzi" or "T. cruzi" for short. There is no known cure for Chagas and it is estimated that there are approximately eight million poor people in Mexico who have it. The parasite attacks the internal organs and especially the heart and victims die at a much earlier than normal age. I have no idea why the local people call them "juansanchez". Nobody that I talked to seems to know.
There are about 130 subspecies of this bug and they are members of Triatominae , a subfamily of Reduviidae, and in English they are known as Conenose bugs, Kissing bugs, Assassin bugs or Triatomines. About a dozen or so of the subspecies cause most of the trouble in Mexico and one of the worst of these is called "Triatominae Mexicana" and it is prevalent in the states of Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, and Michoacán. The bugs get into poorly constructed dwellings and live in the mattresses or bedclothes or even cracks in the bedroom wall or ceiling or floor. At night they come out and feast on the blood of their victims like mosquitoes do. They like to insert their proboscis in the facial area of their victims which is why they are called the "kissing" bug. They do this painlessly so as not to wake their victim but do not insert the T. cruzi parasite while they are actually sucking blood. The parasite is in their feces and is deposited near the tiny wound that their proboscis makes. The anti-coagulant in the mucous of their proboscis makes the wound itch and when the victim involuntarily scratches the itch they automatically rub the feces into the wound and that is how the the victim is infected. These bugs hide during the day and come out at night to search for blood when the host is asleep and the air is cooler. Odors as well as heat guide these insects to the host. Carbon dioxide emanating from breathing, as well as ammonia and other human body odors attract their attention. During night the bugs are also initially attracted to houses by bright lights. There are other vertebrates that serve as a reservoir for Chagas disease. These include Tuzos (gophers), ardillas (squirrels), ratones (mice), mapaches (raccoons), and especially tlacuaches (opossums, also called zarigüeyas).
There is another bug that I heard of recently that one has to see to believe. There is a town in Yucatan called Téjuxpan, where they have a big black beetle called the Buffalo Clasp Beetle (Dynastes fibula). They take this beetle and they glue little ornaments to it and a little chain so that ladies can pin them to their clothes and the beetles crawl around on the ladies' clothing, being limited in their travel only by the length of the chain. They are quite docile and can live for up to a year if cared for properly. Normally they live out of sight on the forest floor and eat dead and rotting vegetable material. Perhaps one of the Merida bloggers can fill us in a little more about them. They go by the name of "Maquech" or "Makech". Weird, ain't it?