ABC Blog

Beware the Dangerous “Kissing Bug”

On the surface, a kissing bug sounds fun. Sadly, it doesn’t cause the world to smooch in perfect harmony. A kissing bug is just that: a bug. These bugs don’t cause property damage, but the bug’s bite and risk of transmitting Chagas disease render them worthy of strict pest control. Kissing bug sightings are currently on the rise in Central Texas.

Kissing bugs, also called conenose bugs, assassin bugs and Mexican bed bugs, often lug around the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite and earned their primary name by biting around people’s mouths and eyes. If the kissing bug releases feces when it’s feeding, T. cruzi becomes absorbed into the kissing bug’s chosen buffet source; usually, humans and canines are unsuspecting buffet tables. During the first few weeks, a person infected with Chagas disease experiences swelling at site, fatigue, fever, a rash, constipation and abdominal pain. This is the acute phase, which becomes chronic … Read Full Post »

The Newest Invasive Species in Texas

Texas is under invasion. Outside intruders are visiting our backyards, waterways, and agricultural fields. As people and goods travel across state and national borders faster than ever, invasive species from faraway places like Africa and Asia threaten our native plants and animals.

According to, a multi-agency partnership that aims to educate Texans about the threat of invasive species, individual invasive species can cause crop and lawn damages of $100 million or more per year. Although only 15% of non-native organisms can be classified as “invasive,” these unwanted pests threaten the native species that make Texas unique and prosperous. Here are a few of the state’s newest enemies.

African Cluster Bug

This invasive insect is just as gross as its name implies. It’s often found in damaging swarms that can descend on cropland and gardens. With a fearsome reproduction rate and an appetite for local cash crops like flax and thyme, the African … Read Full Post »

Pests…On Your Plate

ant infestation

Are you cooking with… insects?

It’s hard to picture insects and arachnids as anything more than bothersome pests that disrupt barbeques, cause painful stings, and freak many of us out. But it may be time to start welcoming these creatures into your life….and on your plate.

The Latest Food Trend

Sweet and salty snacks, blackened seafood, alternative milk, and bug burgers? Believe it or not, these are all popular food trends this year, and yes, insects have solidified a spot in the culinary industry. Concerns about feeding the world’s ever-growing population and some courageous foodies’ efforts have given these creepy crawlers a new purpose.

The health benefits of this “alternative food source” can’t be denied, either. While the Huffington Post reports that eating insects can combat obesity, you should also know that many pests are protein, lipid, and calorie-rich and packed with many essential vitamins and minerals. Pair that with their abundant availability and … Read Full Post »

Is Your Yard a Mosquito Paradise?

mosquitoes atlanta, pest control orlando

When your pool party turns into an all-you-can-eat buffet for mosquitoes, it can feel like you’ve been engulfed by an indestructible horde of the pesky insects. The truth is that mosquitoes are fragile and need very specific conditions to breed. Here is everything you need to know about what a mosquito looks for in a home–and how to make your yard into an undesirable neighborhood.

For a mosquito, curb appeal begins with water. Specifically, dirty water that’s been sitting for a while. Why is water so important? Mosquito larvae filter nutrients from stagnant water, which means the old planter at the corner of the garage is prime real estate. The tire swing can turn into a luxury condo complex just four days after a good rainstorm. And, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even an upturned bottle-cap can become a studio apartment for the house-hunting mosquito on a budget. … Read Full Post »

Tarantulas: Science Fiction Stars Gone Wild

Almost everyone can identify a tarantula. The fierce-looking, hairy spiders can grow as large as dinner plates and cause arachnophobic homeowners to hug their chandeliers. They are pests to some and pets to others, and if you live in Texas, you’ll probably encounter one sooner or later. If you’re unlucky, you may find one in your yard. If your luck is even worse, one might decide to slip into your home unnoticed. In either case, you should be prepared.

What to do if You Encounter a Tarantula

First, relax. Finding a huge, hairy spider is disturbing, but tarantulas aren’t the dangerous monsters many people think they are. Compared to some of their fellow arachnids, they’re not very dangerous. They have fangs, but they rarely bite unless it’s in self-defense. If a tarantula does bite you, it would hurt like a bee sting, and you might have some mild swelling. Unless you’re severely … Read Full Post »

In the News: Tiny Wasps Cultivated Here in Texas for Use as a Citrus-Saving Weapon

While you no doubt love having your citrus trees, you’ve probably noticed that you aren’t the only one in the neighborhood who enjoys easy access to fresh fruit. Insects like the Asian citrus psyllid have been wreaking havoc in Texan citrus fields and home gardens, but pesticides may not be the best answer. Mass spraying tends to have pretty nasty side effects, and some species may even develop tolerance to such chemicals. Fortunately, a local lab is taking clues from nature by cultivating a non-stinging wasp that is a highly effective deterrent.

What’s Wrong with Psyllids?

The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, wouldn’t be such a problem if all it did was suck sap out of new shoots on various citrus tree species. Unfortunately, these tiny bugs also create a toxic byproduct that mangles some buds and kills off others, preventing trees from growing out properly. As if this isn’t bad enough, … Read Full Post »

Bee Removal: Protecting Our Bumble Buddies

why do bees swarm

Many people are afraid of bees due to the threat of bee stings. In most cases, bees are not dangerous to humans unless you are allergic. They are a necessary component of the ecosystem and responsible for pollinating many of the plants we eat. All the same, a hive can sometimes be built in an inconvenient location, and bee removal does become necessary on occasion.

The Life of Bumblebees

Whenever you identify a bee colony living near your home or office, the first step to removal is correctly identifying the bee species. Bumblebees have different habits than carpenter bees and honey bees, and understanding these habits will aid in your pest control efforts.

Bumblebees are docile and live in small colonies. They prefer to nest in grass clumps or old mouse holes, but they can also make their homes in birdhouses, under porches, in old planters, or in any other cozy space. The … Read Full Post »

Your Home May Not Be as Clean as You Think

If you’re like most people, your housecleaning routine ends with feelings of relief, accomplishment, pride and exhaustion. The floors shine, and the toilet sparkles. Even the toaster gleams, but did you look inside? If you didn’t get all the crumbs out yourself, something small and creepy might do the job for you.

Housecleaning is quite a chore, and sometimes it’s impractical to move every appliance and cover every square inch with disinfectant and a toothbrush. Unfortunately, if you neglect the little nooks and crannies for too long, dirt accumulates, and it may become a free smorgasbord for insects like the dreaded German cockroach.

Your Home’s Dirty Little Secrets

Pests love all the obvious lures like dirty dishes, overflowing garbage cans and smelly clothes, but they also love the spots that nobody ever thinks about. Grease, dust, food particles, mold and mildew can hide almost anywhere. Here are a few commonly overlooked areas you … Read Full Post »

10 Tips for Pest Prevention in the Kitchen

Unless you enjoy chocolate-covered ants, the kitchen is probably the last place you want to find pests. They can chew through boxes, eat your food and litter the drawers with feces. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent them from infesting a kitchen. You might even reduce your food and energy bills in the process.

1. Keep more of your food in the refrigerator or freezer. Few pests can find their way into these appliances. Cereal and dried fruit last longer when refrigerated, but don’t put your bananas in there!

2. When possible, buy food that comes in cans or jars. Bugs and rodents can chew through plastic bags, paper and cardboard without much difficulty. Bagged frozen food is also a good option.

3. Store items like peanuts, cookies and crackers in glass jars or sturdy plastic bins. Some pests prefer a sugary diet, but all types of food are … Read Full Post »

Alert the Pestparazzi: Mosquitoes Are Making a Big Comeback this Summer

facts about mosquitos

For the past few years, we’ve experienced instability in mosquito activity due to inconsistent rainfall. This year was different. Increased rainfall has led to denser summer mosquito populations. This year’s mosquitoes can be compared to obnoxious has-been movie stars making a gloriously successful comeback. Like yesterday’s faded starlets, they’ve been craving a second chance to steal your time and attention. Celebrities drain you by bombarding the national headlines with meaningless drama and publicity stunts. The bite of a mosquito drains you in a more literal sense.

How to Survive the Current Swarm

Protecting yourself from this year’s thriving batch of mosquitoes is essential. Not only can they ruin your cookouts and make you irritable and itchy, but they can also give you horrible illnesses like the West Nile virus. Even your pets are at risk. Infected mosquitoes can transmit deadly heartworms to dogs and cats. Fortunately, there are many ways to defeat the mosquito’s … Read Full Post »