Has Your Landscape Hit a Wall?

Retaining Your Soil’s Sanity

If anyone needs proof that the earth isn’t flat, it only takes a drive around San Antonio to confirm the obvious. The Hill Country is beautiful, but its rolling terrain slips landscaping challenges into your best-laid plans for a stable yard. An attractive retaining wall can shore up your shifting scenery and restore some sanity to the area’s expansive soil.

Walls That Work Hard

Retaining walls might look like ornamental additions to a landscape, but the Riverwalk wouldn’t exist without these humble feats of engineering. While they appear to define the water’s flow, they actually support the massive soil foundations of the buildings that line the river’s banks. Even a small wall performs the same vital function: It acts as a barrier that shores up soil along changes in the landscape’s elevation. The wall’s strength rests on a base built below ground level and a compacted backfill that supports … Read Full Post »

Cool Pest Science: Using Beetle Pheromones for Pest Control?

Over the years, modern science has come up with a stunning range of solutions to everyday pest problems. Many of these are conventional and even boring, but others capture the imagination of the public. We’re betting that you’re not familiar with an offbeat yet effective means of controlling structural pests and other unwanted insect visitors: beetle pheromones.

What Are Pheromones, Anyway?

Pheromones are biological compounds that animals excrete to attract mates, communicate or perform other important tasks. Human pheromones exist mainly to strengthen ties between mates and family members, but other animals use these chemicals for different purposes. Although some pheromones are associated with strong odors, many of these compounds are odorless and can’t be detected by the human sensory system.

Origins and Application

According to groundbreaking research, the female Asian longhorned beetle—an invasive species that has devastated structures and foliage across wide swathes of the United States—secretes a powerful sex pheromone that attracts … Read Full Post »

Can Your Lawn Reveal Your Deepest Secrets?

You probably won’t find lawn conditions mentioned in many pop psychology books, but if you look carefully, there may be a correlation between a person’s lawn and their personalities and priorities. At first glance, it might not seem important, but if you’re looking for a mate or trying to impress your neighbors, your personal environment and what it reveals about you could be a make-or-break factor. Here are a few personality types that could potentially be linked to lawn condition (and of course, we take these results with a grain of salt!).

The Control Freak

The Control Freak’s lawn is never more than a fraction of an inch too long or short. It’s the perfect shade of green, and any blemishes are quickly isolated and treated intensively until they’re back in formation. The Control Freak regularly inspects every plant in the yard and references the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab when necessary.

The … Read Full Post »

A Snappy History of the Mousetrap

Throughout history, humans have looked for ways to manage mice and rats. The small, furry creatures can cause a host of problems by invading food stores, chewing building materials and spreading disease. One classic mouse management tool is the spring-loaded mousetrap. A subject of both controversy and humor, the mousetrap consists of a flat wooden base and a wire spring mechanism triggered by a rodent’s weight.

A Brief and Snappy History

British inventor James Henry Atkinson created the “Little Nipper,” the prototype on which the modern spring-loaded mousetrap is based. Atkinson sold his patent to Proctor in 1913, and the company has been manufacturing the traps ever since. Not to be outdone by the Brits, American inventor John Mast received a patent for a similar snap-trap in 1903. His became the best-selling mousetrap of all time. Mast claimed that his design was safer; human users wouldn’t risk losing their fingers while loading … Read Full Post »

FAQ: How Toxic Are the Pest Control Products Used by ABC Home & Commercial Services?

If you have a pest problem in your home, you may be willing to try just about anything to dispel the threat. At the same time, you’re probably cognizant of the fact that some pest control products are toxic. We’re sensitive to these issues as well. In fact, we take pains to ensure that our approach to pest mitigation doesn’t jeopardize your family’s health and well-being. These commonly asked questions explain more about our services and philosophy.

What Specific Products Do We Use?

The products we use contain the following:

• Insect growth regulators
• Pyrethrins
• Pyrethroids
• Indoxycarb

Each of these materials acts on specific pests in certain ways. Although they may be harmful if ingested or under other circumstances of misuse, they lack the dangerous side effects that make certain other pest control products unacceptable for indoor use.

What Other Pest Control Methods Do We Employ?

Pest control products are only part of our pest control … Read Full Post »

Noises in the Walls: Could It Be a Rat Invasion?

Do you hear noises in the walls or ceilings? It could be a sign that rats have invaded your home. These large rodents recently became the most common pest in the San Antonio area. They will live in any building that provides them with water, food and shelter.

A rat infestation doesn’t imply that a house or neighborhood is unclean. It simply means that your home has at least one opening the size of a quarter. Unfortunately, many new buildings are constructed with small holes in their roofing or siding.

Signs of an Invasion

Two rat species have achieved notoriety in San Antonio. If you usually hear noises in the ceiling, roof rats may have infested your attic. These rodents run quickly and like to eat nuts or fruit. The larger Norway rat is more likely to crawl through your home’s walls.

You will probably notice other indications before you actually see a rat. … Read Full Post »

FAQ: What Pest Control Products/ Materials Are Used by ABC?

Modern pest control measures generally involve the application of products and solvents that kill or disrupt the rodents, arachnids and insects that make their way into our homes. As a homeowner, you have every right to wonder about the safety of these materials. We’re fully committed to ensuring your safety and well-being, so we’ve put together a list of questions that potential customers ask about our pest control program.

How Do You Maximize the Safety of Your Pest Control Measures?

At ABC, we like to approach a pest problem holistically through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This approach involves identifying and eliminating the cause of the infestation, treating the current infestation, and incorporating preventative measures to keep the infestation from returning.

For the treatment aspect of the program, we select pest control products and materials that are known to have few effects on “non-targets.” Non-targets are “bystander” life forms that don’t act as pests … Read Full Post »

Can I Save a Bee Allergy Victim’s Life with an EpiPen?

If you’re lucky enough to be immune to the toxins in bee venom, you probably don’t worry much about bee stings. For “regular” folks, most bee stings are little more than nuisances that go away in a day or two. For bee allergy sufferers, however, they can be far more dangerous. Learn how to potentially save a bee allergy victim’s life with an EpiPen.

Common Bee Sting Symptoms

For non-allergic sting victims, bee sting symptoms commonly include:

• Mild rash or swelling near the sting site
• Persistent, often acute pain
• Numbness, soreness or tenderness around the sting
• Itching and minor bleeding

For those who suffer from bee allergies, signs of an allergic reaction may include:

• Lightheadedness or fainting
• Shortness of breath, wheezing or persistent dry coughing
• Vomiting, cramping and diarrhea
• Widespread rashes or swelling away from the sting site
• Profuse sweating or chills

Collectively, these symptoms describe a condition known as anaphylactic shock.

What Is an … Read Full Post »

How to Protect Your Paper Goods from Cockroaches

Living in the gorgeous San Antonio area can be exciting and fulfilling with so many wonderful opportunities for entertainment, recreation and adventure. While fun backyard parties, long days by the pool and bird watching might be on the agenda, living in the River City can also come with a few simple challenges. With incessantly hot summers and mild winters, the humid subtropical climate of Texas can be conducive to the proliferation of a variety of common household pests. When it comes to stubborn pests, cockroaches make it to the top of the list. With a remarkable ability to thrive even in the harshest of environments, it’s not surprising that these insects can do very well within the comfortable confines of our homes.

Cockroaches Can Eat Just About Anything

Cockroaches are highly evasive and love to inhabit the damp, dark and neglected areas of buildings, such as basements and attics. Although these insects … Read Full Post »

Garden Magic: Making an Amazing Compost Mix

A well-kept lawn or bright flower garden can significantly add to your home’s curb appeal and value. Of course, maintaining a beautiful lawn or garden in the hot climate of San Antonio can be tough. Keeping up with regular watering and lawn maintenance is important, but it won’t take care of all of your healthy lawn needs. If you want to create a lawn or garden that’s truly well nourished and adds value to your property, it’s time to start a compost pile.

Creating Your Basic Compost Mix

Composting is the process of allowing waste materials to decay so that they are broken down into a nutrient-rich mix that can be used to fertilize lawns, plants, trees and gardens. If you’d like to start composting, you’ll need to buy or build a compost bin. You should be able to find wire, wooden and metal compost bins. Metal bins are generally built to … Read Full Post »