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Giant Mesquite Bug (Thasus neocalifornicus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Mesquite Bug



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Image Credit: AJ M. from Stanton, AZ
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Image Credit: Dave B. from AZ
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Giant Mesquite Bugs are at home in the Southwest, where their favorite plant grows in the Sonoran chaparral.



Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The adult Giant Mesquite Bug is very large and conspicuous despite its earthy brown or muted green coloring. Large size gives it an advantage over possible insect predators, but it also makes it easier for birds and lizards to find and eat it. This bug is usually found hanging around, or on, mesquite trees, whose wood is often used by people to smoke meats or barbecue. This native plant is a food source for the insect. Males have large 'thighs'. Both sexes have flattened discs near the tips of their antennae and red and black bands on their legs. A triangular area on the wings showcases pale yellow veins that criss-cross the 'back'. They can emit an odorous chemical that is meant to deter predators from eating them. The aroma is believed to change as they mature. It is thought that this change reflects the different types of predators the bug encounters at particular life stages.

Young Giant Mesquite Bugs are colorful and look nothing like the adult form. They are bright red with bright white horizontal lines along their backs. Along the 'spine' is a series of white dots with a few black rings in between them. Their legs have red and black bands. This species is found mostly in Arizona and New Mexico, but populations also exist in northern Mexico. These multicolored offspring are usually found in large groups, clustered on a single mesquite tree. They feed on the juices pulled out of the softer plant parts, like new leaves, seed pods, and young stems.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Coreidae
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          Genus: Thasus
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            Species: neocalifornicus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Thasus neocalifornicus
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 40mm (0.59" to 1.57")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, white, black, orange, red, green
Descriptors: flying, large, lines, long
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 15mm (0.6in) and 40mm (1.6in)
Lo: 15mm
Md: 27.5mm
Hi: 40mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Giant Mesquite Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Giant Mesquite Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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