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The Texas A&M “Bug Bytes” Podcast

Bugs are more interesting than you ever imagined.

At least 50,000 people listen to the “Bug Bytes” podcast from Texas A&M University. The entomology department in College Station produces this insightful program about the bizarre world of insects. It explores strange bug habits, odd uses for insects and related human culture. “Bug Bytes” offers a fun way to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

Diverse Topics

The content of this podcast ranges from practical to amusing. For example, one episode looked at the reasons why certain people choose to eat insects. Other programs have compared different repellents, discussed insect bathing techniques or examined bugs that glow. This podcast also explores arthropod influences on human creations, such as architecture and technology.

The hosts interview entomology experts from time to time. In April 2011, “Bug Bytes” featured a conversation with the director of a documentary on honeybees. The program briefly examined colony collapse disorder, an unexplained … Read Full Post »

National Pest Management Month Recognizes the Importance of the Pest Management Industry

This Month, Remember Your Friendly Pest Control Specialist

From Alaska to Florida, the nation’s pest control professionals work tirelessly to keep Americans’ homes and gardens free of unwanted pests. These specialists have dedicated their careers to the cause, so the least we can do is take our hats off to them with a month-long celebration known as National Pest Management Month. Next time you call our crew members to your house, take a moment to thank them for their hard work.

What Is National Pest Management Month?

National Pest Management Month is a month-long event that recognizes the often-unheralded contributions of the country’s pest management specialists. The centerpiece of the event was a convention in Washington, D.C., in which hundreds of pest control professionals met with lawmakers and lobbyists to stress the importance of the industry. By all accounts, the event—held in the middle of March—was a smashing success.

Scary Facts About Everyday Pests

Homeowners … Read Full Post »

The Perils of Poor-Quality Bed Bug Treatment

Traditional pest control methods prove remarkably ineffective in the battle against bed bugs.The Perils of Poor-Quality Bed Bug Treatment

Many pests plague our corner of Texas, but bed bugs are notoriously difficult to exterminate through traditional treatment methods. As a result, misguided pest control techniques can become financially and emotionally draining. Proven treatment techniques are limited, but there is hope.

The Perils of Ineffective Bed Bug Treatment

At a global bed bug summit that was held in Denver in December 2013, one of the presenters shared some poll numbers about treating bed bugs. In both 2010 and 2013, 76% of the pest management professionals who were surveyed indicated that bed bugs are the most problematic pests to control.

One Vermont couple learned the hard truth about bed bug control. Neil and Patricia Whitney are highly praised foster parents, and one of their foster children came from a home infested with bed bugs. When an … Read Full Post »

Ants: They’re Mightier than You Think

When you see a spider, you probably run or at least flounder helplessly in a corner until someone removes it. Cockroaches likely make your skin crawl and your hair stand on end. A scorpion might send you into convulsions, but an ant is probably lucky to inspire a raised eyebrow. Granted, the presence of one or two ants is no reason to sound an alarm. Unfortunately, when several hundred join forces, they can do a surprising amount of damage.

Never Underestimate the Ant

Ruining your picnic is child’s play for some ants. Here are a few ways various types of Texas ants can make your life miserable.

• Common household ants can contaminate your food stores in record time. They’re especially fond of sweets. They carry bacteria on their feet, so once an army of ants invades a food item, it’s theirs.

• Red imported fire ants typically nest outdoors. Their mounds can damage … Read Full Post »

Does Your Home Have a Deep Dark Plumbing Secret?

If you’ve owned a home for any length of time, you’ve probably dealt with a plumbing problem or two. You may even be handy with routine plumbing tasks like tightening fixtures or unclogging toilets. However, your water system’s woes may be the result of more serious issues that won’t go away without professional assistance. Learn more about how to tell if your home has a deep, dark plumbing secret.

Common Plumbing Problems

Along with a hefty dose of elbow grease, plenty of plumbing problems can be fixed with a plunger, snake or pliers. Unfortunately, many others may be signs of more serious issues that can’t be remediated without professional assistance. These might include:

• Corroded pipes
• Blockages caused by mineral accumulation
• Tree root damage
• Burst pipes
• Intake line issues and sewer collapse

Quick Fixes That Don’t Work

These problems can manifest themselves in many different ways. When faced with a leaky or blocked pipe, many … Read Full Post »

Is Your Home on the Bug Invasion List?

Prevention is crucial for effective pest control

No structure is immune to determined pests. Bugs have invaded five-star hotels, office towers, movie theaters and just about every other type of building, but certain homes are particularly prone to infestation. Make sure your house or apartment doesn’t have too many of these pest-friendly attributes:

1. Damaged or missing screens: Insects can squeeze through very small holes in screens on your windows or attic vents. Sadly, it may only take one bug to infest the entire home. Use tape or hot glue to patch holes until you replace a screen.

2. Unsealed gaps and cracks: Bugs constantly explore your home’s exterior surfaces. They’ll take advantage of any tiny gaps around the gas lines, utility wires, doors or windows. Some insects also enter houses by crawling through cracks in foundation walls.

3. Poorly sealed units: Cockroaches, bedbugs or fleas might infest an entire apartment or condo building … Read Full Post »

15 Native Plants Every Texan Needs (Part 2)

Last week we discussed how you can make your landscaping and lawn care more manageable by selecting native Texas plants for your yard. For the first part of this article, which focused on native trees and shrubs, click here. In the following post, we’ll introduce you to a few of the most low-maintenance, drought-resistant perennials, grasses, and vines for the Bryan and College station areas.

Native Texas Perennials

While annuals require planting or seeding each year, perennials grow back year after year from a single planting. Some annuals self-seed easily, but true perennials grow from the same root system each year. Texas has a lot of beautiful native varieties to choose from.

• Flame Acanthus—The flame acanthus is an example of a xeriscape perennial that does fine without water but produces better blooms with a little watering. Hummingbirds are drawn to the beautiful orange-red blossoms.

• Calylophus—Calylophus produces gorgeous yellow blooms that are about … Read Full Post »

15 Native Plants Every Texan Needs (Part 1)

Landscaping will be more enjoyable and require less maintenance if you use plants native to your own regional climate. Native plants are easy to care for and resist pests and diseases. Because they’ve naturally adapted to their environment over thousands of years, they won’t need as much fertilizer and water as non-native plants.

If you aren’t familiar with the plants native to Texas, here are a few examples of Texas trees and shrubs ideally suited to the Bryan and College Station climate.

Native Texas Trees

Trees are the largest and most long-lived parts of your landscape. You don’t want to put time and effort into planting a fabulous tree only to watch it wither and die two or three years later. Choosing native varieties will give you plants that will thrive in the Texas heat and require far less water than their northern cousins.

• Live Oak—The live oak is a drought-tolerant shade tree … Read Full Post »

Avoid Large Irrigation Bills This Summer with These 5 Easy Tips

Stop pouring water and money down the drain

Thanks to the arid Texas weather, it’s often necessary to install an irrigation system that keeps your landscape looking good. However, this system may cost a fortune to operate. Here are five easy tips to help you keep irrigation expenses down this summer.

1. Run the Sprinkler in the Morning

Early in the day, the temperature is cool and wind is usually at a minimum, which means that less water will be lost from evaporation. Watering your plants at night can cause diseases to form on leaves and roots. Most often this is a problem in a humid climate like Texas.

2. Check for Leaks

If water appears to be running onto your sidewalks after your sprinkler has been turned off, there may be a leaky valve in your system. This can cause a great increase in irrigation bills because water is constantly running. Many times this … Read Full Post »

When Weeds Attack: How to Handle Perennial Nuisances

Like many noble pursuits, cultivating a great-looking lawn takes hard work and patience. Unfortunately, the variable climate of Central Texas often gets in the way. Try as you might, you probably find it difficult to completely eradicate weeds and invasive plants from the managed areas of your property. It’s especially difficult to get rid of weeds that closely resemble your lawn’s planted grasses.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the toughest weeds in the Bryan-College Station area and offer some tips about dealing with them.

Annual Bluegrass

Annual bluegrass is a truly pernicious weed. Since it’s related to Kentucky bluegrass, a popular covering for golf courses and other high-traffic areas, it’s a rugged, hearty breed that closely resembles common lawn grasses. You can tell annual bluegrass from its “good” perennial cousin by its tendency to form thick, unruly clumps and the slight curvature of its blades. Annual bluegrass is also a bit … Read Full Post »