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Watch Out for These Terrifying Texas Insects When Camping and Hiking

Watch Out for These Terrifying Texas Insects When Camping and Hiking

When you travel across the vast territory known as Texas, insects will likely join the trip. Uninvited guests are often annoying, and some of these Texas insects have a worse bite than their bark. We’ll give you some pointers on what little critters to watch for in the Lone Star State.

Stay Away from These Dangerous Texas Insects

Texas is a massive state, and the climate varies from region to region. So does the variety of insects you’ll likely encounter. Some of these bugs may bother you, but most of them are mostly harmless. 

10 Terrifying Insects & Arachnids in Texas

Just swat them or shoo them away and go about your business. No harm, no foul, right? Well, that’s not always the case. As you survey your surroundings in Texas, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t share your space with something dangerous. Watch out for these Texas insects in particular.

Kissing Bugs

Also called vampire bugs, these blood-sucking insects like to target your lips or face. You should worry less about their bites than what they leave behind. 

Their excrement may contain a parasite that can spread a serious ailment called Chagas disease.  It’s an infection that can cause serious heart problems and stomach problems. If a kissing bug bites you, don’t rub or scratch the wound — it may lead to a nasty infection.

Black Widow Spider

These big black spiders like to lurk in the shadows, but they can get aggressive if they feel threatened. Black widows are glossy and have a distinctive red pattern on their abdomen that looks like an hourglass. 

You can experience severe pain and even muscle cramps from a black widow bite. Other black spiders look similar to them but are harmless. Unless you’re an expert on identifying spiders, it’s a safe practice to steer clear of all of them.  

Close up on a black widow spider in a web.
Beware of the black widow spider and the pain their bite can contain.

Brown Recluse Spider

These spiders are even more dangerous than black widows because they are venomous. A brown recluse bite can cause nausea, joint pain, fever, and even seizures. You could also end up with a permanent scar. 

Brown recluse spiders have violin-shaped bodies ranging from a quarter-inch up to three-quarters of an inch. Many have light to dark brown or tan coloring. Like black widows, they like to lie low in dark places, making them hard to spot.

Red Velvet Ant

With “cow killer” as a nickname, these Texas insects can’t be good. These furry red-and-black insects are actually wasps, not ants. 

They can deliver a painful sting if you provoke them, but they prefer to target livestock. They aren’t all bad, though. Red velvet ants serve as natural predators to other stinging bugs like yellow jackets and other bees.

Close up image of a red velvet ant.
Red velvet ants usually target livestock, but a sting from them can be painful.

Asp Caterpillar

An asp caterpillar develops into a flannel moth. In their younger phase, they’re one of the most toxic caterpillars in North America. Spiny hairs covering their body are attached to poison glands. 

Contact with an asp caterpillar can cause intense throbbing pain or even swelling and respiratory distress. In short, they may look harmless, but leave them alone.

Blister Beetles

Who’s your favorite beetle? Probably not this one. This Texas insect produces a chemical that causes your skin to blister, which won’t clear up for a week or more. 

They have long slender bodies, from a third to two-thirds an inch in length. Some are solid black, while others are gray or bright yellow with black stripes.

Pro Tip: Don’t like the creepy crawlies? Make sure to Avoid These Insects When Camping in Florida.

Blister beetle sitting on a flower.
Producing a chemical that causes your skin to blister, blister beetles should be avoided.

Striped Bark Scorpion

A sting from a scorpion won’t kill you, but you might remember it for a while. These yellowish arthropods look kind of like little lobsters but have a long tail that curls up on the end. 

It’s tempting to try and get a close look at one of these curiosities, but it’s better to keep a safe distance. They are not venomous, but a sting means excruciating pain, swelling, and itching.

Redhead Centipede

When they say everything is bigger in Texas, they might refer to the centipedes. Also known as the giant desert centipede, these little monsters grow between 6 and 9 inches long. 

Not that you’d want to, but picking one up risks an injection of venom from its claws and fangs. Expect some pain and swelling if that happens.

Redhead centipede
A redhead centipede can grow up to between six to nine inches long!


You know how annoying these pests can be, but it’s always worth repeating that they can carry numerous serious diseases. They breed in warm,  stagnant waters. 

Besides that lingering sting from a mosquito bite, you could wind up with lasting health effects. They can carry the West Nile virus, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and encephalitis.


These clingy little critters are hard to spot, and you can easily mistake them for a freckle or a mole. Some people make it a habit to wear light-colored clothing so ticks will stand out. If you find one attached to you, remove it immediately with tweezers. Make sure to pull from their body, not just the head, to remove it completely.

Hopefully, you will avoid getting infected with debilitating Lyme disease, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks can spread other illnesses, too, including ehrlichiosis, encephalitis, anaplasmosis, and tularemia.

texas brown tarantula
Sighting a Texas brown tarantula can be startling, but these arachnids are actually docile and non-aggressive.

Texas Brown Tarantulas

Texas has a tarantula called the Texas Brown Tarantula. It also goes by the name of Oklahoma brown tarantula or the Missouri tarantula. While creepy looking, these arachnids are actually quite docile and non-aggressive. As long as you leave these guys alone, they shouldn’t be an issue on your camping or hiking trip.

Should you be bitten, the puncture wound itself is going to be the most painful part except in the unlikely case of an allergic reaction.

How to Avoid These Texas Insects

Running across creepy crawlers is a fact of outdoor life. You can’t avoid them, but you can take some steps to keep them at bay. Make these practices part of your routine to keep Texas insects from spoiling your camping experience.

Overhead image of hiking boots,
Always check inside your shoes before putting them on to make sure no Texas insects have snuck inside.

Check Your Shoes

That welcome mat isn’t for everyone, so don’t let them hitch a ride inside. This is one of the common ways that bugs get inside your coach or camper. Make it a habit to carefully inspect your shoes and socks before you enter.

Check Your Clothes

That goes for the rest of your wardrobe, too. You don’t want dangerous insects to take up residence in your laundry basket. And if you tend to hang your clothes back up after you wear them, you may introduce them to your closet space. These Texas insects might build nests, webs and even reproduce inside your RV.

Woman hiking in Texas.
When getting dressed, make sure to check your clothes for insects.

Watch Your Step

You’ll spend less time inspecting your shoes and clothes if you pay careful attention to where you walk. Whether on a quick stroll out to the tow vehicle or on an extended hike, watch what’s underfoot. It’s a habit that can quickly gain traction.

Use Bug Repellent

Even though you might be hesitant to use them, insect repellents are a must when you spend time outdoors. Find what works best for you, whether it’s a bug spray or some other kind of repellent. Yes, some of them have harmful side effects, but so can some of these bug bites.

Pro Tip: Bust out your bug spray, and then enjoy some scenic camping on the beach in Texas! Read more to find out Where You Can Camp on the Beach in Texas.

Woman spraying bug spray.
Bug spray all day to keep the creepy crawlies away!

Keep Your Tent or RV Closed

When the weather is pleasant, it’s tempting to open up doors, windows, and flaps to let in the fresh breeze. But you may also let in those unwanted pests and not realize it. Keep them shut, or make sure your screens are in top shape. This will help to keep these Texas insects outside, where they belong.

We Left Texas! - Sugarite Canyon and Capulin Volcano - Mondays with the Mortons S4 E1

Avoid Texas Insects

Texas is a huge and amazing place, with lots of things to see and do. Unfortunately, the state has lots of little pests that want to share the experience with you. Make the most of your time, thereby limiting your exposure to Texas insects.

Have you ever had a run-in with these bugs? Drop a comment below!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Sunday 5th of December 2021

Good information here.