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Giant Mesquite Bugs of the Sonoran Desert

Giant Mesquite Bugs of the Sonoran Desert

March has already arrived and summer is only a hop, skip, and a jump away. With early summer fast approaching, if you live in the desert, you will begin to see some of the freakiest looking bugs on this planet. The Giant Mesquite Bug combines the bright colors of a butterfly and the large, “freak-you-out” size of a June bug. This ultimately puts them in the category of the clowns of the insect world. On one hand they are brightly colored and attract a lot of attention and fascination, but on the other hand their somewhat freakish and large appearance also inspires a slight feeling of fear lying just under your skin and a desire to stay as far away from them as you can. They might look friendly, but your subconscious knows that, despite this, there is a frightening monster waiting inside them for you to come too close.

Starting in early summer you can begin to see these strange looking red and white bugs on the foliage of mesquite trees. This is when the Giant Mesquite Bugs enter the world in their immature and wingless nymph forms. The nymphs are typically red and white striped, and have plump legs of the same red and white colors, bluish little stubs of what will become their wings, and big red and white antennae sticking out from their heads. The Giant Mesquite Bug is decorated in these bright colors in order to warn potential predators that they don’t want to mess with them. When the nymphs are harassed by any insects or humans they release a very stinky secretion that repels the predators that were not already warned off by their bright colors.

Adult Giant Mesquite Bugs are less colorful than their nymph forms, with fully formed black wings covered in yellow veins now capable of flight. They can grow up to 1 ¼ inches long and have red and black striped legs and antennae. Giant Mesquite Bugs are only found in places with lots of trees, as they survive on sap, tender leaves, and the green seed pods of mesquite trees. Fortunately for the trees, Giant Mesquite Bugs are not a pest that causes a lot of damage to the tree. The cause very minimal damage and do not need to be removed by an exterminator. They are rather strange looking when they are all feeding in a rather creepy-looking mass, but are completely harmless to both trees and humans.

Have you ever seen a Giant Mesquite Bug hanging out on a tree? Was there a giant mass of them together or just a few spread out? What did you think they were when you first laid eyes on them?

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