ABC Blog

Texas Spiders: How Homeowners Can Protect Loved Ones

texas spiders

If you live in the great state of Texas, you’ve probably heard the saying that “Everything is bigger in Texas”—and when it comes to Texas spiders, that’s often all too true! These creepy-crawlies can make even the strongest among us shudder, or jump in fear when we encounter one of them.

Tarantulas, with their enormous, hairy bodies and long, thick, hairy legs, are an excellent example of just how big Texas spiders can get; they are one of the most famous Texas spiders, along with black widows and brown recluses. But there are many other varieties of Texas spiders—almost 900 species, in fact! Although most species you are likely to encounter in and around your home are harmless, there are a few which are venomous that you’ll want to learn more about so that you can protect your family from the health risks associated with poisonous spider bites. 

The Brown Recluse: … Read Full Post »

Should I Cover My AC Unit In The Winter?

HVAC tips for winter

Anyone who lives in the southern portions of the United States will tell you that having a good air conditioning system is essential because, for about two-thirds of the year, your unit is going to be running pretty much nonstop.

You’ll depend upon your AC to survive our hot, sweltering summers, when the temperatures frequently hit triple digits. You’ll also rely on your system during much of the spring and fall, since the 80s and 90s stick around for much longer here than in many other parts of the country.

During the hottest times of the year, homeowners may regularly clean or replace filters, pay attention to how their system is running and remove debris from around outdoor vents.

When the cold weather (briefly) sets in, however, many of us promptly forget all about our AC, basking in lower electric bills while we can. Some homeowners might not even give the air conditioner … Read Full Post »

Deer Mouse Vs. House Mouse: Which Is The Bigger Pest?

Deer Mouse vs. House Mouse

Scritch-scritch-scratch. Scritch-scritch-scratch.

When the sound wakes you up in the middle of the night, you immediately know: something got into the walls.

But what? Rats? Squirrels? Opossums? Raccoons?

Could be any of these uninvited guests. So, you grab a broom and flashlight and head out to search for entry points, not exactly sure what you’re looking for.

Luckily, your mission doesn’t take long. You not only discover the tiny hole the critters used to get in, but also actually see one of the little visitors scampering away—a mouse.

Now comes another important question for any homeowner: was it a house mouse or a deer mouse?

Deer and house mice are two of the most common rodents found in homes in the southern states. A majority of homeowners often have a hard time telling one from the other, so this is one of the most common questions pest professionals are asked.

Why does this matter?

While both types of rodents … Read Full Post »

How Long After Fumigation Is It Safe For Pets?

How long after fumigation is it safe to bring pets

First, it was ants. As a homeowner in the South, you’re probably already used to protecting against fire ants and other crawling insects in your yard. Perhaps then it became a surprise when you discovered them swarming over what you thought was a totally clean kitchen counter. You sprayed. You put out traps. You squished the ones you noticed.

But the ants wouldn’t go away.

Next, there were beetles. Then a spider bit your son in his room when he was home visiting from college. Then came the rats. You may feel as though you are living through a serious of plagues, and nothing’s working.

So, you’re finally considering your options. Looking into the “F” word: fumigation.

When your house is overrun, sometimes fumigation is an option to control certain types of pest infestations. Moreover, when you have numerous different types of pests, this method can take them all out at once, rather than … Read Full Post »

Why Am I Running Out of Hot Water Faster Than Before?

Running Out Of Hot Water Faster Than Before

It started with a dinner party.

You had lots of dishes to wash, and when the water surprisingly turned cold you assumed it was probably because you’d taken so long.

Then your spouse yelled at you for using all the hot water, even though you took a shower the night before.

When you had your own unintentional cold shower—that is, one that turned frigid 10 minutes in—you knew something was up. Your shower water was not hot enough. The hot water just wasn’t lasting as long as usual, and you have no idea how to fix it.

As busy homeowners, we always want a quick, simple fix. Sometimes that’s possible, but in other instances, it isn’t.

Because there are all kinds of reasons why hot water in a house might be running out faster than normal: power supply problems, rusty pipes, a pilot light out, sediment, a broken dip tube—and that’s just to name a … Read Full Post »

How To Stop Birds From Building Nests In Gutters

How To Stop Birds From Building Nests In Gutters

Most people understand the purpose of installing gutters around the roofline of their homes and garages: to divert rainwater from the roof and house to someplace safe, well away from any structures that could potentially sustain water damage. Pretty simple, right? Yet this standard home-maintenance task is one that many homeowners push to the back burner in favor of dealing with seemingly more pressing problems.

Part of the issue is the old saying about “out of sight, out of mind”. This is especially true with gutters, since they are located well above our line of sight. Most people can’t see the debris collecting in their gutters without going to some trouble to do so. Clogged gutters can lead to big problems down the road, however, including water damage, flooding issues, unwelcome visitors like birds and mosquitoes nesting or breeding in gutters, and more.

Following is the lowdown on how to … Read Full Post »

My Gas Stove Igniter Keeps Clicking: What Should I Do?

Gas Stove Igniter Keeps Clicking

You’re in a rush on a weeknight to get dinner on the table. This is a pretty common scenario.

You put a skillet on your favorite burner to get the process started. Yep, most of us also have one of those.

Then it happens. Ugh. When you move the switch to “Light”, your gas stove igniter keeps clicking, but doesn’t turn on.

If you’re like most homeowners, the last sound you want to hear coming from an object that uses gas and gets blazingly hot is ticking.

What’s going on? What should you do?

This is quite a common problem, primarily with stoves that have a spark ignition system. The most important thing to know is that a clicking stove isn’t dangerous, though you should deal with it promptly.

A normal igniter clicks up to three times before it sparks and lights your stove. Sometimes, however, the igniter will click continuously—even after the stove is lit. … Read Full Post »

Tree Crowning: Is It Good Idea Or A Mistake?

Tree crowning

One of the things that drew you to your home was the beautiful trees. Perhaps you’ve never really had much of a green thumb, so you left the trees to their own devices. So far, that hasn’t been a problem.

Recently, though, you’ve noticed that those gorgeous trees have gotten a bit out of control. Where once they were uniform and well-manicured, now there are random branches jutting out here and there, giving your trees a ragged, lop-sided appearance.

You’ve considered dragging yourself up on your ladder to cut the offending branches. You’ve heard there is a technique called “tree crowning”, but you’re not really sure exactly how to do it—or even whether it would be a good thing to do.

The most important thing we can convey is that tree crowning is very rarely recommended by reputable lawn care experts. Although it may achieve your aesthetic goals, tree crowning will often damage … Read Full Post »

Best Trees For Central Texas: A Homeowner’s Guide

Best trees for Central Texas

If you live in Austin, San Antonio or any of the surrounding cities, towns and rural spaces that make up the vast and beautiful Central Texas region, you already know something about Central Texas trees: In order not just to survive but to thrive, they have to be able to withstand periods of high heat and drought as well as occasional frigid snaps and deluges of water when the rainy season hits in spring and fall. That’s right—Central Texas trees have to be as tough, hardy and resilient as the people who live here. The best trees for Central Texas landscapes include varieties that can withstand all of the above, along with a variety of soil compositions, including plenty of rocks and limestone. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the best trees for Central Texas gardeners and the outdoor spaces they love.

Texas Ash Tree: A Classic Choice For … Read Full Post »

Ironclad Beetle: A Friend Or Foe To Your Plants?

Ironclad beetle

You were doing yard work on a Saturday morning when you noticed a bug unlike any you had ever seen before. What was remarkable was the color. Unlike the typical black or brown coloration that allows insects to blend into their surroundings, this creature was a striking white with black splotches. Your immediate reaction was probably a mix of curiosity and fear. What is this strange bug? Do I need to be worried that it could bite? Does it pose any danger to my plants, pets or family?

Most likely, you’ve had an encounter with an ironclad beetle.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about the impact this insect has on your yard or household. The strange part? Very little is known about this visually distinct insect.

In this post, we’ll explore everything scientists do know about this bug and other similar insects you may run across in your … Read Full Post »