In English, bed bugs are parasitic insects that can infest beds and the areas where people sleep. Wikipedia shows that the Spanish term for bed bug is chinche. However, my understanding is that chinche (at least in Central America) refers to the insect that spreads Chagas disease.

What are the correct terms for these two insects, and how can you make the (very important!) difference clear when talking about them?

  • 1
    Common names are fine if you and your speaker agree on them; if not, better use the scientific names first as the accepted answer suggests. Note that Chagas disease vectors have many common names; in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia (i.e. a large tract of Spanish-speaking South America) they're known as vinchucas.
    – pablodf76
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


Both bed bugs and the insects that spread the protozoan that causes Chagas disease are insects of the order Hemiptera. Bugs of this order are commonly referred to in Spanish as chinches, so this is a good name for either.

So yes, both bugs are closely related. If you want to differentiate, you can always be specific (or pedantic!) and use their scientific names; Triatominae (or triatomines) for the Chagas disease vector and Cimex for bed bugs.

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