Giant Mesquite Bugs, live, appropriately, on various species of mesquite tree in the Southwest US and in Mexico. You can find these large leaf-footed bugs most easily in late summer and fall. The males have extra-large hind legs with bumps and spines. The females have thin and smooth hind legs. They tend to gather in large groups on the trees. They are slow fliers and impossible to miss. Not long before the weather turns cold in late October, they will have laid their eggs on a tree branch or twig and died off, their missions complete.
Total lifespan from hatching until death: about 8 months. Eggs survive the winter and hatch in the spring. There are five larval stages called "instars," starting with the first, hatchling. After a several days or longer, the nymph will pull itself out of its old skin (molt), and expand its soft new shell to a larger size before it hardens. This cycle repeats until the sixth molt, when it become an adult with wings. At each stage the nymph has different patterns and colors. These bugs feed on mesquite flowers, beans and tree sap through a short straw-like mouth. Unlike mosquitoes and assassin bugs, these insects don't bite and are quite harmless to hold in your hand. See this page at BugGuide.net for details.