Bug of the Week: Giant Mesquite Bugs

Related to the squash bug from last week, this week we found giant mesquite bugs.

These big bugs (about the size of a child’s thumb) seem like something from another age.

Let’s look closer.

I can tell this is a “true bug” because of the triangle in the middle of its back. Can you spot it?

Also, look how the wing changes texture from where it attaches on the back (at the right side) to between the water droplets. The wing veins run in another direction and the wing actually goes from leathery to more flimsy, like a piece of cellophane.

Let’s go back  to look at the squash bug. Can you see the triangle and the wing patterns, too? In this case the triangle is not a different color, but it is still there.

Those are clues entomologists use to tell if two insects are similar, and also what kind they are.

Squash bugs and giant mesquite bugs are alike in other ways, too. It turns out that the giant mesquite bugs will also produce odors to defend themselves.

In this photo you can see the mouthparts sticking down below the head. Giant mesquite bugs use their “beaks” to suck plant sap from mesquite trees. (The adults we saw were clustered around the green seed pods of the mesquite trees.)

Firefly Forest has photographs of the bright-colored immatures (nymphs) and more information.

Have you ever found a giant mesquite bug? How about other “true bugs?”


  1. Carolyn

    My son LOVES anything science! And great close-up shots of the bugs–so fascinating!
    Happy Wednesday!
    Cookin’ for my Captain

  2. lindy

    Very detailed pics–I’ve never seen a giant mesquite bug before.

  3. Rosa @ CtLT

    Wow! Great shots! I’m not really fond of bugs, but they are fun to photograph! 🙂
    Your blog looks interesting, I will be hopping back later…

  4. rebecca

    Wow, very cool insects! I’ve encountered leaf-footed bugs quite a bit but never giant mesquite bugs. What I’d REALLY like to see at some point is a wheel bug…

  5. Roberta

    These giant mesquite bugs were in an area with a lot of mesquite trees (the Hassayampa preserve). I’ve seen wheel bugs back East, and they aren’t quite as big.

  6. Roberta

    Glad to hear your son likes science. We have fun science projects to do posted each weekend.

  7. Roberta

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Beth

    Nice photos! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog:) I have added your blog to my reader. My kids are almost 2 and 3 years old and I am trying to start a few little simple science projects now. This will be good inspiration for me!

  9. Bill Webber

    Spotted one of these in nymph stage this morning under our Giant mesquite tree. I’ve got a great picture, but can’t seem to upload it on this site.

  10. Roberta

    If you upload your photograph onto a public sharing site like Flickr, you can leave a link to it here. I don’t really have a way to add photographs to comments.

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