What's that critter in my yard? Is it bad or good? Will it hurt my plants, kids, or pets? Learn more about these critters below.
Giant African Land Snails
Giant African Land Snails were spotted in a Houston garden earlier this year, and there was a concern due to the snail's ability to transmit parasitic diseases to humans. Fortunately, these extra-large snails are not common in our area. View more information on the Giant African land snail.
These tiny wasps (about 1/3 inch) are rarely seen, but their galls are observed on oak tree branches and leaves. Galls from these critters may deform leaves (if large quantities are present), but Cynipid Wasps and their galls are generally not considered pests - so no treatment is necessary. View more information on Cynipid Wasps.
The Pileated Woodpecker is also a combination of black, white, and red. He has a red crest and cap and red mustache stripe. This Woodpecker was the model for "Woody Woodpecker," and he is also the largest Woodpecker in the United States. This critter feeds on insects (ants and wood boring beetle larvae), nuts, and fruits. Its song is: "cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk." View more information on the Houston Audubon Society's website about Pileated Woodpeckers.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is also a combination of black, white, and red. His red markings include: a read head, throat and upper breast. He is the only Woodpecker in the eastern United States that has a completely red head. This critter feeds on insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, seeds, nuts, and berries. Its song is "queark," "queer, queer, queer," or "kerr-uck, kerr-uck." View more information on the Houston Audubon Society's website about Red-headed Woodpeckers.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is the first in our "Woodpecker Series" - we'll feature one of the five top woodpeckers in our area over the next five months. Since these critters are similar in appearance, we'll be able to compare and contrast them to learn to identify each type.
Cicadas (also commonly called "locusts") are a common sound throughout the summer. Although you may never come face-to-face with a live cicada, you will often hear the males "singing" for the females. Also, cicadas leave behind crusty, brown shells on trees and shrubs. View more information about the vocal cicada.
This is the Asp (Puss) Caterpillar. These hairy, large caterpillars (about an inch in length) can actually be harmful if handled. The asp will sting when touched with bare hands. View more information on the Asp Caterpillar.
This summer, we received a lot of calls from people saying, "My pine tree needles are turning black.". On closer inspection, clusters of mealybugs were present, and the needles were coated with Sooty Mold (a black fungus), often produced by mealybugs. Sooty Mold is usually an indicator of the following insects: aphids, whiteflies, scales, and mealybugs. These critters secrete a clear, sticky liquid known as honeydew. Then, honeydew forms on the leaf. Mealybugs affect a wide range of plants. View more about mealybugs.