ABC Blog

Please choose a city to view local blog posts:

How to Control Fruit Flies and Fungus Gnats

Fruit flies and fungus gnats are the most common flying insects found in and around compost bins. These insects are not dangerous or harmful; however, their presence can be a nuisance, particularly indoors. A little information about the food and environments these insects are attracted to can be used to help us control their presence in places where they are not wanted.

Fruit flies

There are many species of fruit flies, ranging in size from one to two millimeters. They can be recognized by the rather bulbous shape of their lower bodies, which is frequently an orange or light brown color. They are relatively slow flyers, often hovering around fruit or juice.

Indoor compost bins (worm bins) provide favorable conditions for the reproduction of these insects, but occasionally fruit flies seem to appear in our kitchens as if by spontaneous generation, even without the presence of a worm bin. This is because they … Read Full Post »

Chigger Bite Prevention & Skin Care

Probably no creature on earth can cause as much torment for its size than the tiny chigger. Tiny six-legged chigger larvae attack campers, picnickers, hikers, bird watchers, berry pickers, fishermen, soldiers, and homeowners in low, damp areas where vegetation is rank such as woodlands, berry patches, orchards, along lakes and streams, and even in drier places where vegetation is low such as lawns, golf courses, and parks. They are most numerous in early summer when grass, weeds and other vegetation are heaviest. Chiggers do not burrow into the skin, but insert their mouthparts in a skin pore or hair follicle. Their bites produce small, reddish welts on the skin accompanied by intense itching as irritating as acute cases of poison ivory or poison sumac. These symptoms often are the only way of learning that an outdoor area is infested since chiggers are so small that most cannot be seen without … Read Full Post »

City of Austin Waterwise Landscape Rebate Program: Conserve Water and Save Money

Austin Water began a new rebate program on July 1, 2010, named the Landscape Conversion Incentive Program. This program is part of Austin’s larger plan to become one of the greenest cities in the nation. It is also a great way to promote efficient use of water in our landscapes and help us to the road to sustainable living. Not only that, but you get free money for participating in the program, too. Austin Water provides resources to help you determine the best native plants and designs for your landscaping projects. If you are interested in participating in the program you can visit the Austin Water website or access the form by clicking on this hyperlink, Landscape Conversion Incentive Rebate Form.

To be eligible for the program, you need to have started your xeriscaping project after July 1, 2010. Requirements include before and after pictures, a minimum of 500 square feet used for … Read Full Post »

Managing Large-Sized Pests in Texas

Large sized pests can cause serious property and health risks to home owners and should be dealt with carefully. These types of pests are usually always attracted by food, whether it comes in the form of food scraps, garbage, or even composting. The two most common types of large sized pests include raccoons, and coyotes. You should use extreme caution when dealing with pests of these size and call control professionals if the situation seems dangerous.

Raccoons
Raccoons are nocturnal creatures, and they are the bandits of the animal kingdom; these rascals will locate and steal anything that is of value or use to them. The raccoon can grow to be almost 3 feet long and can vary in weight from 10 pounds up to almost forty pounds. The raccoon typically lives for 8 to 10 years. These creatures are generally passive, but if they are cornered or feel endangered they can … Read Full Post »

Texas Mosquito Myths

With so many families spending time outdoors, it’s important to stay protected from unplanned summer mishaps. In fact, adults named insect-related (25 percent) concerns like stings, bites and contracting the West Nile virus from infected mosquitoes among their top protection concerns during the summer.

When it comes to summer most of us can’t wait to hit the beach, hike local nature trails or even lounge in the backyard. In fact, according to the OFF! PowerPad survey, adults say they and/or their families plan to attend a barbecue (73 percent), watch fireworks (59 percent), attend outdoor concerts (33 percent), go camping (28 percent) and go to amusement parks (32 percent) this summer.

With so many families spending time outdoors, it’s important to stay protected from unplanned summer mishaps. In fact, adults named insect-related (25 percent) concerns like stings, bites and contracting the West Nile virus from infected mosquitoes among their top protection concerns … Read Full Post »

3 Tips to Having a Pest-Free Vacation

After that nice cold winter we had summer wasted no time in letting us know we were still in Texas. 100+ degree days already and it’s only June! It’s defiantly vacation time .On top of that the bugs are moving and just like you they are looking to beat the heat. Here are a few thing you might check before you head out the door for cooler climates.

1. Security Lighting: Most people like to deter snoops and thieves by leaving exterior lights on while they are out of town. It may help keep the crooks away, but those same lights shine like a beacon calling bugs to your home. The longer the light shines the more bugs that come. And getting that many bugs together is too much of a temptation for hungry spiders. You’ve created your own little pest house party when all you really wanted to do is … Read Full Post »

How Energy Efficient Are Solar Screens?

 

Solar screens are the most effective window treatments that you can apply to your home. They are great for lowering energy bills by stopping the heat transfer through your windows and doors while still maintaining your view. Window film, interior products, or awnings cannot compete with the energy efficiency of solar shade screens. The best product to install is the 90% shade factor solar screens which are and incredibly pet resistant pvc coated polyester material. What color of solar screen should you choose? The darker colors are more efficient and also have the best view. However there are many different colors and you should pick the color you will be most happy with. Remember, the darker the color the better the view.

Which windows or doors on my house should you do? Many companies will tell you for maximum energy efficiency, solar screens should protect all windows and doors. This is … Read Full Post »

Watering Trees in Texas Summer

While attempting the near impossible task of maintaining a green yard in the middle of a Central Texas summer, it is important not to neglect your trees when watering your yard. Frequent drought conditions and the Texas heat can take a toll on any shrub or tree, but it can be especially damaging to newly planted trees. The most limiting factor for newly planted tree growth and survival is a lack of adequate water. Without enough water, young trees experience slowed root and shoot growth which can cause the tree to become stunted. Once stunting occurs, it is very difficult for a tree to make up the lost growth. Drought injury on tree leaves include wilting, curling at the edges, yellowing; leaves might be smaller size drop early or stay on the branches even though dead and/or brown. Drought stress might not kill trees immediately but it might set them … Read Full Post »

What are HEPA Air Filters & Purifiers?

Shopping for a home air purifier, a whole house air filter for the furnace room, or a new vacuum cleaner just wouldn’t be the same without the dozens of products that pride themselves on their top quality HEPA filters. But what is a HEPA filter? Read on for the facts and the history of HEPA air filters.

What Is HEPA?

HEPA stands for “High Efficiency Particulate Air.” HEPA is not a brand; it is a type of air filtration system that is said to remove at least 99.97% of the most difficult size of airborne particles to filter, particles of 0.3 microns or micrometres in diameter (0.3 millionths of a metre).

Particles of this size are considered the most difficult to filter, and the HEPA filter is even more effective at filtering larger and smaller particles. This makes the HEPA filter ideal for capturing things like dust, dust mites, mold spores, cigarette smoke, … Read Full Post »

Venomous Spiders in Texas

Texas has two venomous species of spiders, the black widow (Latrodectus mactans) and the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). Both of these species of spiders can be found indoors and outdoors throughout the State. The female black widow can be identified by its jet black color, globular abdomen with a reddish or yellowish hourglass on the underside. Male, black widow spiders are smaller, brown and nondescript. The black widow spider is aptly named because the female usually eats the male after mating. The venom of the black widow is a neurotoxin and can lead to severe systemic reactions and in rare cases, death. The black widow’s venom is reportedly 15 times more toxic than the venom of the prairie rattlesnake. However, only a minute quantity is injected with each bite. The most severe reactions occur in children and older adults. Black widow spiders can frequently be found in woodpiles, boxes, outdoor … Read Full Post »