Spring Pests: What to Expect as Temperatures Rise

As the chill of winter fades and temperatures begin to rise, a variety of insect pests start to make their presence known. Environmental factors such as an increase in temperature and the moisture we often see during the spring season will signal over-wintering arthropods to emerge during these favorable times. Here’s a look at some of the common pests you might encounter in and around your home during spring.


Arguably the most notable ant pest in the Texas landscape is the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA). The Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) is native to tropical and subtropical South America and has become an invasive species in many parts of the world, including the southern United States. These ants are known for their aggressive foraging behavior, high reproductive capability, and lack of natural predators in their invaded regions. As temperatures increase in the spring, homeowners can expect to see a rise in the activity of these ants. Studies have shown that the foraging activity of the Red Imported Fire Ant is driven primarily by soil temperature (Vogt et al. 2003). As the soil warms up, these ants become more active, potentially leading to more frequent encounters with humans and pets. They can form large mounds constructed from soil with no visible entrances because foraging tunnels are built and workers emerge far away from the nest. Mound density will usually increase after heavy rain in an area. Homeowners should be aware that these ants can deliver painful stings and take appropriate precautions to manage and prevent infestations. For more information on RIFA and its control, visit: https://fireant.tamu.edu/manage/site/


As temperatures increase in the spring, homeowners can expect to see a rise in mosquito activity. The type of mosquito present and whether it represents just an annoyance or a possible disease vector – likely depends on environmental conditions. For example, water availability and type (fresh, clear floodwater in ditches, a container collecting water, or stagnant puddles left behind from previous weather events), are critical factors that will affect the type of mosquito and the population density in your area. Recent hot and drier conditions are raising concerns among health officials about the potential for rising populations of vector mosquitoes. Rainfall can significantly contribute to a rapid increase in mosquito populations. Homeowners should be vigilant about preventing mosquito bites to reduce the risk of contracting diseases. Check out our free PDF on Do-It-Yourself Backyard Mosquito Control for tips on managing these nuisance pests.


Most spiders found in and around the home in Texas are harmless. There are some groups that homeowners may want to be aware of, however.

  • The brown recluse spider, for instance, is most frequently seen during the spring months. They are active from spring through the fall outdoors – but can be active year-round in climate-controlled spaces such as our homes, attic/storage areas, and garages. These spiders are nocturnal hunters and prefer hidden areas that are rarely disturbed. Homeowners should be aware that some spiders, like the brown recluse, can deliver venomous bites. Therefore, it’s important to take precautions when dealing with stored items or working in areas where these spiders might hide. See our publication on the brown recluse spider for more information. 
  • The black widow spider is most commonly found in undisturbed sites such as basements and storage areas, and they prefer cluttered areas. I have personally come across black widow spiders hanging out in outdoor trashcans, BBQ/smoke pits that have been untouched for some time, and underneath patio furniture. They primarily prefer protected areas near the ground, such as under stones, pieces of wood, or brick piles, or in rodent burrows and hollow tree stumps. Their webs are usually built in a dark spot sheltered from the weather and they tend to be rather “messy” in appearance. Again, homeowners should be aware that black widow spiders can deliver venomous bites, and take precautions when dealing with stored items or working in areas where these spiders might hide. See our publication on the black widow spider for more information.

Boxelder bugs:

Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittatus) are found throughout most of Texas and feed on several species of trees. As temperatures increase in the spring, adult bugs emerge from overwintering and begin mating soon after. The females deposit eggs in the cracks and crevices of tree bark, and after about two weeks, the eggs hatch, and the nymphs develop into adults throughout the summer. There may be two or more generations per year in Texas. Homeowners may encounter dense aggregations of these bugs, where several stages of nymphs and adults can be seen at the same time. In the fall, the adults and nymphs leave the trees they feed on and look for sheltered areas in which to spend the winter. Unsurprisingly, as temperatures rise in the spring, homeowners can expect to see an increase in the activity of these bugs. They may become a nuisance either when they enter homes or other structures seeking shelter in the fall, or as they begin to emerge from those structures in high densities in the spring. Homeowners should take preventive actions such as sealing cracks and crevices and inspecting the outside of the structure for areas that boxelder bugs may find as suitable overwintering locations. Click here for more information. 

Pill/ Sow bugs (aka roly-polies), Millipedes and Centipedes:

I had to be sure to include a section dedicated to a few of those arthropod groups we often come across with more than 8 legs!

  • Pillbugs, also known as roly-polies, are common arthropods in most Texas landscapes and in general, are harmless. As temperatures increase in the spring, pillbugs may become more active and can occasionally become pests around the home. They are prolific breeders, giving birth to 30-80 young per brood, and may produce two to three generations per year in Texas. Check out our previous post about these arthropods here for more information.
  • Millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per body segment, are also found throughout Texas. They prefer moist environments and can commonly be found in soil, leaf litter, or under rocks or wood. In the spring, as temperatures rise, millipedes may become more active. They occasionally damage plants by feeding on stems and leaves, though this usually only occurs on delicate seedlings. Centipedes, which have one pair of legs per body segment, are another common sight in Texas. They also prefer moist, protected habitats such as under stones, rotted logs (be cautious of those firewood piles!), leaves, or bark. As temperatures increase in the spring, centipedes may become more active. They are predaceous, feeding on other arthropods, such as insects. The bite of larger species of centipedes may cause pain, swelling, and discomfort. For more information on millipedes and centipedes in Texas, check out this factsheet here.

Crane flies:

Crane flies, often referred to as “mosquito hawks” or “skeeter eaters” are a common sight in Texas, typically seen in mass during early spring and fall. As temperatures increase in the spring, homeowners can expect to see a rise in crane fly activity. When the environmental conditions are right, such as the rising temperatures we have been having recently, crane flies begin emerging as adults. As larvae, they live in moist soils for the majority of their lives. We only notice their presence during the adult emergence times, which are rather short-lived. They do not possess a stinger, and most of them do not even have mouthparts as adults. Crane flies are a great food source for all sorts of insectivores, like frogs, swallows, and armadillos, and play an important role in a healthy ecosystem. Homeowners should be aware that while these flies are harmless, they can become a nuisance when they enter homes. Check out our previous post on crane flies for more information.

By being aware of these common spring pests and taking preventative measures, you can help keep your home pest-free. Remember these 3 key factors: Food, water, and shelter. These are the foundations of every pest problem.

Here are some preventative measures you can take to pest-proof your property.

Proper identification: Proper pest identification is the first and most critical step in effective pest control and can help in understanding the pest’s life cycle, habits, and habitats, which can aid in devising strategies to prevent future infestations. It allows for targeted, efficient, safe, and ethical pest management strategies. Different pests require different control methods. Some treatments that are effective for one type of pest may not work for another. By correctly identifying the pest, homeowners or pest control professionals can avoid using unnecessary or inappropriate treatments, which can save time, and money, and prevent unnecessary exposure to pesticides.

Routine inspections: Routine inspections can help in detecting pest infestations at an early stage, which can prevent extensive damage to the structure and keep nuisance pests at bay. The sooner a pest problem is identified, the easier and less costly it is to manage. Regular inspections allow homeowners and pest control professionals to identify potential risk factors for pest infestations, such as cracks, crevices, or moisture problems, and take preventive measures. By regularly monitoring pest activity, homeowners can devise and adjust treatment plans based on the current situation, making pest control efforts more effective. In summary, routine inspections help in early detection, prevention, effective treatment planning, minimizing health risks, and maintaining property value.

Sanitation and regular maintenance:

  • Eliminate Food Sources: Proper sanitation can help eliminate potential food sources that attract pests. Many pests are attracted to areas where food and water are readily available.
  • Reduce Breeding Sites: Regular landscape maintenance can help reduce potential breeding sites for pests. For example, standing water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and overgrown vegetation can provide shelter for rodents and insects.
  • Early Detection: Regular maintenance and sanitation checks can lead to early detection of pest problems, allowing for quicker and more effective treatment.
  • Preserve Property Value: Maintaining a clean and well-kept landscape can help preserve the property’s value by preventing pest infestations that can cause structural damage.

Exclusion: Exclusion involves making modifications to buildings or landscapes to prevent pests from gaining access. This can include sealing cracks and crevices, installing door sweeps, or screening vents to name a few.

  • Prevent Entry: Maintaining the landscape can help prevent pests from entering the structure. For instance, trimming trees and shrubs that touch the building can prevent pests from using them as bridges to enter the structure.
  • Long-term Solution: While other pest control methods such as the use of pesticides can provide immediate relief, exclusion provides a long-term solution by addressing the root cause of the problem.
  • Non-Chemical Approach: Exclusion is a non-chemical approach to pest control. It is an essential part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which emphasizes the use of non-chemical control methods whenever possible.
  • Cost-Effective: Although the initial cost of implementing exclusion methods can be high, the long-term benefits such as reduced reliance on pesticides and less frequent pest problems can make it a cost-effective solution.
  • Health and Safety: By preventing pests from entering structures, exclusion helps reduce the risk of diseases that pests can carry. It also reduces the need for pesticides, which can have health risks if not used properly.

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