When Ants Fight, Are You the Winner?

Figuring the odds on fire vs. crazy

When you first heard about their amazing ability to kick the stuffing out of fearsome fire ants, you were probably impressed with crazy ants. Since the early 2000s, this invasive new species has established its own ferocious reputation, and homeowners from Houston to Dallas are caught in the middle. Should you take sides?

Different Nesting Tactics

Both ant species hitchhiked here from South America where they were already mortal enemies. Perhaps the rivalry began over homebuilding styles. Fire ants take a traditional approach by constructing large mounds in backyards. As their population grows, they branch out with those familiar dirt piles that mean trouble for bare human feet. Crazy ants start out in the lawn, but they aren’t satisfied with life outside. These deranged pests push their colonies into home interiors by nesting in walls and crawl spaces, and they enjoy setting up house in electrical … Read Full Post »

Restaurant Team Spirit: Your Staff and Pest Prevention

Serving up smart pest control tips

Folks in Dallas enjoy dining out, and their love for delicious food and great service keeps you in business. As hard as you work to make your restaurant profitable, a pest infestation can ruin inventory, run off customers, and put a dent in your reputation. Prevention is your best defense, so get your staff involved in a team effort against expensive invaders.

Back-of-House Strategies

Fresh inventory gets checked in against daily and weekly orders, but kitchen staff should give everything a second inspection before moving it to storage or the walk-in. Anything that pushes food costs over 35% sets off alarms, so there’s no room in the budget for losses from pest contamination. Red-flag meal moths around flour sacks and cockroaches in produce boxes. Stress the importance of rotating inventory, regularly sweeping out storage, and mopping floors after every prep.

Front-of-House Strategies

Your waitstaff knows the restaurant’s layout from … Read Full Post »

The Joys of Urban Farming in Dallas

Growing your own food no matter what the season

Did you know that fall and early winter in Dallas are great times to grow some of your favorite vegetables? Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can take advantage of the mild Texas climate to enjoy fresh produce all year.

Home Garden Options

The best place for a garden is somewhere that gets a lot of sun, contains fertile soil with good drainage, and can be watered easily as needed. You can plant in your front yard, backyard, or even in containers on your porch.

Urban gardening requires getting creative with the space you have available. This may mean utilizing window boxes and hanging baskets or building raised beds. As long as you can give your plants the light, water, and nutrients they need, you’ll be on track for a bountiful harvest.

Benefits of Gardening

Making space to garden in and around your … Read Full Post »

Nature’s Smallest Carpenters

Termites: tearing down, not building up

Termites are familiar to every homeowner in the Dallas area. Even if you haven’t personally experienced them in your home, it’s likely that you have a vague idea of the damage that they can cause. It’s important to note, however, that not all termites are the same. Our region is home to a number of endemic termite species, each of which have specific life cycles, patterns of behavior and consequences for local homeowners.

Types of Termite Species in Texas

There are a number of termites that are endemic to Texas, including:

•    Desert dampwood termites

•    Eastern subterranean termites

•    Formosan subterranean termites

•    Arid-land subterranean termites

•    Western drywood termites

Not all of these termites are present in the Metroplex region. Dallas-Fort Worth lies near the boundary between the subtropical forests of East Texas and the semi-arid steppes of the southern Great Plains and Llano Estacado regions. The climate here is too … Read Full Post »

Roach Family, Party of Four

You’ve worked hard to make your eatery worthy of five-star status. Your servers are top-notch, and your decor delights the senses. Most importantly, your specialties win rave reviews. It could all end with a single scream of horror as a cockroach runs across a table and scurries into a diner’s plate. In an even more nightmarish situation, one of your little brown friends could end up in an entrée. Remember, Dallas isn’t one of those places where cockroach is considered a delicacy. No matter how great your food is, your restaurant’s reputation can go right down the garbage disposal when the whole city hears about your bug problem.

Smart Customers Know the Signs

Don’t assume that show-stopping performances by talented live roaches and spontaneous projectile vomiting are the only risks you face. Savvy, health-conscious consumers know how to recognize the signs of a roach infestation. If they find droppings that resemble black … Read Full Post »

The Latest Texas Mosquito News and Your Family’s Safety

In July, an otherwise ordinary Texas mosquito proved to be the state’s first known carrier of Chikungunya, a tropical virus that hails from the Caribbean. While rarely fatal, Chikungunya is anything but mild, causing a host of unpleasant symptoms that range from fever to vomiting. What makes Chikungunya’s arrival here even more alarming is that this mysterious disease can’t be wiped out with medication. According to a local news report, for the unlucky few who get infected, bed rest for about a week is the only prescription.

Before you panic, keep in mind that you aren’t completely helpless against Chikungunya’s advance into the continental United States. Since the virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, better mosquito control at home is the key to staying healthy all year long.

Keep Your Property Dry

There’s nothing mosquitoes love more than standing water. Besides walking around your yard to look for puddles, remember to check your … Read Full Post »

Practice Family Safety With Home Alarm Drills

Installing fire alarms and other security measures is a great way to keep your home safer, but alarms alone can’t save you if disaster strikes. Regular safety drills, however, can. In a real emergency, flailing wildly, screaming and running in random circles with your hair on fire just isn’t helpful. To increase your family’s survival skills, become a home drill sergeant by conducting safety drills regularly to make sure everyone knows exactly where to go and what to do. You can even add a few fun elements to make it less of a chore. For example, let your kids take turns running safety inspections. Give your star inspector a toy detective’s badge, or offer a small reward for flawless performances. For fire drills, designate a junior fire chief to oversee the operation. Here are a few more essential tips for conducting safety drills:

Fire Drill Tips

•    Before the drill, make a … Read Full Post »

The Problem with Imported Fire Ants

Some fire ants burn hotter than others

Red imported fire ants have become a serious problem in the Dallas area. They behave more aggressively and possess stronger stingers than most other species. This fast-moving ant has few natural enemies in Texas, so it continues to infest new areas. Large groups of fire ants may attack pets, livestock and people who disturb their mounds.

Identification

When you see small, dark-red insects that measure at least one-sixteenth inch, they might be imported fire ants. The largest workers grow up to one-quarter inch long, and their antennas consist of 10 tiny segments. Don’t stand next to a mound to inspect these bugs. It’s much safer to find a dead insect before using your magnifying glass.

Harmful Effects

Although it has been known to infest buildings, this invasive pest usually stays outdoors. You may feel its fiery sting if you work or recreate in a field, park, playground or … Read Full Post »

The Grass Is Always Green in Dallas

How targeted services can help keep your Dallas lawn beautiful

Like most homeowners, you want to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. A beautiful lawn makes a great impression on guests and adds to the visual appeal of your property. Unfortunately, keeping your yard in great shape isn’t always easy. It’s essential to take climate conditions in the local area into consideration when formulating a lawn care plan.

How Climate Impacts Your Lawn

Weather conditions in Dallas have a significant impact on your lawn’s health. While the area enjoys relatively temperate winters, very hot summers can be tough on your yard. Humid conditions can provide a haven for bugs that wreak havoc on grass, shrubs and trees. That’s why it’s important to choose a lawn care service specifically designed for local homeowners. When you take local conditions into consideration, you can develop an efficient and effective watering, weeding and mowing routine.

Essential … Read Full Post »

Mosquitoes Making Unwanted Waves This Summer

An annoying pest may have just become deadlier

In North Texas, the dog days of summer are known for stifling heat and restless locals. This summer, however, there’s a potentially serious threat to the health and well-being of people and pets across the Metroplex. According to numerous reports, mosquitoes bearing a potentially deadly pathogen have appeared in the region this year. In other parts of the country, mosquitoes with even more exotic ailments are making the rounds as well.

The West Nile Scare

Over the past several months, nearly a dozen pools of mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus have been discovered in various corners of the metro area, including:

• Two Dallas ZIP Codes
• Carrollton
• Irving
• Mesquite
• Coppell
• Cedar Hill
• Duncanville

West Nile is a serious disease that causes flu-like symptoms, including muscle aches, headaches and fever, in about 20% of those infected. In rarer cases, it can lead to encephalitis that causes … Read Full Post »