Texas Critters Part 3


Are raccoons related to cats or bears? What are they exactly, and what is their purpose (other than to get in trash cans)? Learn more about raccoons.


Bumble Bees

Bumble bees are another Honeybee look-alike. Bumble bees are larger, more furry, and are easily recognized by their bright yellow and black bands. Compare and contrast the Honeybee, Carpenter bee, and Bumble bee.

Bumble bees.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are often confused with Honeybees or Bumble bees because they are similar in appearance. Carpenter bees burrow into trees to make their nests, but they do not eat the wood. Learn more about Carpenter bees.

Carpenter bee.

Raspberry Crazy Ants

Raspberry Crazy Ants are new critters in our area. View more information about Raspberry Crazy Ants in action.

Raspberry crazy ant.


Scales are common on ornamentals, such as magnolia, holly, Indian hawthorne, and gardenia. Scales are insects (although they appear stationary as they attach themselves to the leaf tissue and begin to suck plant juices) and can be treated with an insecticide. Scales may be soft (usually brown to brownish black) or hard (with a white waxy covering). The type of scale most commonly found in our area is the Florida Wax Scale (as pictured). Click here to learn more about scales and how to treat them.


Giant Swallowtail

In the summertime, a lot of people notice what looks like bird poop on the leaves of their citrus trees. This bird poop is actually the caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. The caterpillar is cleverly disguised to prevent birds from eating it. Citrus trees are the main host plant for the Giant Swallowtail (Orange Dogs). Although the caterpillars eat the leaves, they will not kill the plant. So, don't spray these critters if you want to see butterflies. 

Giant swallowtail caterpillar and butterfly.

Cottonwood Borers

Cottonwood Borers are striking insects, due to their size and coloring. They resemble a Dalmatian or a zebra. View more information on the Cottonwood Borer.

Cottonwood borers standing next to a shiny penny.

Monarch Caterpillar / Butterfly

Before you smash that caterpillar, take a closer look. Not all caterpillars defoliate and/or kill plants. Some are butterfly caterpillars. The difference between butterfly caterpillars and defoliating/moth caterpillars is that butterfly caterpillars only feed on certain plants. Many defoliating/moth caterpillars will eat anything and everything, whereas the Monarch Caterpillar eats plants in the milkweek family. View more information on the Monarch Caterpillar / Butterfly.

Monarch caterpillar butterfly.


Marsupials. Australia has kangaroos, and Texas has opossums. This marsupial is quite mysterious. Most people can identify an opossum but do not know much about them. What do they eat? Are they aggressive? Learn more about opossums.


Praying Mantis

Although they look kind of creepy, the Praying Mantis is actually a beneficial insect in the garden (and has been referred to as an insect-hunting machine). View more information on the Praying Mantis.

Praying mantis.

Snails and Slugs

Where does that slime trail lead? Most likely, you'll find a snail or slug at the end. Snails and slugs love to eat moist foliage. They're sneaky, though. They feed mostly at night. View more information about snails and slugs.

Snail and slug.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are found in dead trees and stumps, where they tunnel into wood to make their nests. Like termites, Carpenter ants can cause structural damage, and winged Carpenter ants are sometimes confused with termites. Compare and contrast Carpenter ants and termites.

Carpenter ants.