ABC Blog

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 »

Pests That Invade and Annoy All Year Round

It’s hard enough to deal with a temporary pest infestation, but many Central Texas homeowners have to face pests that invade and annoy all year long. Unfortunately, the mild climate and rich biodiversity of this region creates a welcoming environment for many household and yard pests that don’t need to hibernate or die off during cool or dry periods. Fortunately, dealing with year-round pests isn’t much different from dealing with seasonal pests. We’ve identified some of the most common year-round pests below.

Plus-Size Rodents: Brown Rats

There are several different types of “objectionable” rodents. Among the most common—and most off-putting—is the brown rat. With characteristic brown fur and beady eyes, the brown rat can grow to more than a foot in length. In the relatively warm climate of Central Texas, these creatures don’t hibernate or go dormant. Early signs of an infestation may include scratching or squealing within your walls, basement crevices … Read Full Post »

Selecting Trees for Your Lawn

Planting, Trimming and Nurturing in a Tough Climate

We’re partial to the Bryan-College Station area, so we never hesitate to call attention to the attributes that make its lawns and landscapes so beautiful. At the same time, we recognize that the weather here can offer serious challenges for homeowners who want to keep their properties looking great all year long. From crushing droughts and searing summer temperatures to unexpected fall freezes and soaking spring thunderstorms, these four tree species are adept at handling the region’s variable climate.

Texas Ash

The Texas ash is a hardy tree that grows well in most soils and provides a brilliant color display in November or early December. While it prefers well-drained upland areas, it can tolerate slightly sandy soils as well. For maximum effect, plant young trees after the last frost and provide plenty of water. Although the Texas ash grows rapidly during its early life, its … Read Full Post »

Built to Last: How the Bed Bug Got Its Groove Back

Though they were thought absent from the U.S. for the past 50 years, bed bugs have made a big comeback across the nation. Much to the chagrin of travelers and homeowners, these pests can establish colonies quickly. For homeowners in the Bryan-College Station area, getting rid of these troublesome pests can seem impossible. Before you tackle a bed bug infestation, you’ll need to know a little about how this pest is built.

Why Are Bed Bugs So Hard to Eliminate?

One of the big reasons bed bugs have shown up in the news so much recently is that they’re very difficult to get rid of once they’ve established a colony. It’s the bed bug’s unique anatomy that allows this pest to establish itself so quickly and cause problems for homeowners.

These flat, oval-shaped, reddish-brown bugs often make their way into homes via the luggage and clothing of travelers. Once they reach maturity, bed … Read Full Post »