ABC Blog

How To Identify Spider Bites Versus Bed Bug Bites

a bed bug crawling on someone

Most of the time, we do not see the bugs that bite us. In fact, we might not even know we have bites until long afterward. At this point, it is too late to catch the pest in action. What makes things more complicated is that many different kinds of bug bites look alike. If you do not know when you were bitten or where you were when it happened, it’s difficult to know what bug bit you.

Two of the most common offenders are spiders and bed bugs. These bug bites can make you itch in the same kind of way as flea or mosquito bites can. They can also make you itch like hives or chickenpox. Their bites might look similar, but there are some things you can look out for to help figure out what kind of pest bit you.

One sign to watch for is the pattern of … Read Full Post »

What Causes Cockroaches in Your House?

a cockroach climbing up a wall

What causes cockroaches? This is a good question to ask whether you have a cockroach problem in your home or not. Cockroaches are frightening and disgusting to most. Worse yet, they can actually transmit serious illnesses to people. Knowing what causes cockroaches will help you avoid attracting these pests into your living space.

The bad news is, there are lots of things that can attract cockroaches into your home. Many of us leave pet food out in bowls, or dirty dishes in the sink. We also don’t always wipe down the stovetop and kitchen counters as soon as we should. Unfortunately, these common and seemingly innocent behaviors can actually draw cockroaches. Keeping up with housecleaning, especially in the kitchen, goes a long way toward combating roaches. Still, even the cleanest houses can have major roach problems. Let’s learn more about these pests to find out how to keep them away from … Read Full Post »

What Are the Big Black Ants in My Home?

a big black carpenter ant on a piece of wood

Finding big black ants in your home can be shocking and scary. What exactly are they, how did they get in and what are they looking for? Most of all, how can you get rid of them, fast? Unfortunately, most big black ants found in people’s homes are carpenter ants. They’re called carpenter ants because they build their homes in wood by chewing and tunneling through it. Much like termites, if they aren’t discovered and eliminated, carpenter ants can cause a lot of hidden structural damage in a home.

Unlike termites, which also look to some people like big black ants, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. Rather, they use their large mandibles—their strong mouthparts that are used for chewing—to build tunnels, called galleries, by crunching up the wood. Instead of swallowing the wood, they spit it out, creating wood shavings that look a lot like loose, shredded sawdust. Along with … Read Full Post »

Black Wasp in Texas: Identification & Control Tips

a black wasp on Texas wildflowers

Texas is home to many different types of creepy-crawlies that sting, bite or otherwise cause trouble for people. This includes thousands—yes, thousands—of different species of wasps. One type of wasp commonly found in Texas is black wasps. True to its name, a black wasp in Texas is a flying insect with a narrow, black body, long black wings and a stinger.

Most black wasps in Texas are cricket hunters, so named because they sting crickets (or sometimes grasshoppers or katydids), drag their paralyzed bodies to their wasp nests and lay eggs on the crickets’ backs. When the wasp eggs hatch into larvae, the wasp larvae have ready meals waiting for them—the crickets.

While their reproductive habits are definitely gross, there is good news about black wasps. If you find one in or near your home, you can breathe at least a little bit easy, because black wasps are not known to be … Read Full Post »

What Do Mosquito Larvae Eat?

mosquito larvae eating bacteria in standing water

If you have a mosquito problem in your home or yard, one of the best ways to control these pests is to target their larvae. While adult mosquitoes are the ones that bug most people with their itchy and painful bites, it is sometimes easier to get rid of these pests if you catch them earlier in their lives.

Female mosquitoes can lay eggs as often as every three days. They typically lay these eggs on top of any area of stagnant water that is protected from the wind. This might include areas like tree holes, abandoned tires, kiddie pools and water sitting in an ornamental pond. Mosquitoes can even lay eggs in as little water as the rain that can gather in an overturned bottlecap.

In the right conditions, the larvae typically hatch from the eggs about 24 to 48 hours after a mosquito lays them. However, if environmental conditions are … Read Full Post »

How to Power Wash Siding

a dirty home that has led the homeowner to wonder how to power wash siding

Many types of siding can withstand the pressure of power washing and benefit from this kind of cleaning. For example, fiber cement, vinyl and modern wood clapboard siding are typically strong enough for pressure washing. However, it’s best to avoid using a pressure washer on any surface with lead paint or on homes with aluminum or shingle siding, as these materials could dent or break loose.

Even for siding that can withstand this kind of pressure, it’s wise to use caution with any power washing job. If you use a machine that’s too powerful, use a pressure setting that’s too high or stand too close to your house, then you might end up damaging your siding or even the structure of your home. Plus, you could injure yourself.

That’s why it’s easiest to hire a professional instead of trying to handle pressure washing on your own. These pros have the skills and … Read Full Post »

What Is My Pool’s Evaporation Rate?

a pool with low water levels which leads a homeowner to wonder what their pool evaporation rate is

Pools generally lose about a quarter of an inch of water every day due to evaporation. That said, the evaporation rate depends on several circumstances in your local environment. This means that even under typical conditions, your pool could lose thousands of gallons of water each year from evaporation.

The easiest thing to do is check an evaporation rate map for your area, such as the one made by the National Weather Service. However, if you want to estimate the specific evaporation rate in your pool, you can also measure it.

Using a tape measure or ruler, measure the distance between the surface of your pool water and the top of the pool deck. Wait a week to let the water evaporate and then measure this same distance between the water and pool deck again.

Subtract the first measurement from this second measurement to get a value for how much the water level … Read Full Post »

What Do Ants Eat? Your Questions Answered

a kitchen with an ant infestation which leads a homeowner to wonder what ants eat

If you’re dealing with an ant problem in or around your home, you are probably frustrated. What are these tiny pests doing here? Is there something I did that attracted them to my home or yard? And, most important, how can I get rid of them?

Ants might have chosen to live on your property for many reasons. One reason that ants may have chosen your home or yard is that they have found some source of food. Ants eat a wide range of different things, but their food of choice usually depends on what kind of ants they are.

Let’s start by identifying the type of ant you’re dealing with, so you can take steps towards eliminating their food source.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous house ants love sweet things like honey. These are the tiny, blackish or dark brown ants that you might see rush to the scene if your ice cream melts … Read Full Post »

How To Tell Tick Bites From Mosquito Bites

a hand that might have a tick bite or a mosquito bite on it

It’s warm out and you’ve been spending time outdoors. Then, you find a red, itchy welt somewhere on your skin. Could it be a bite from a mosquito or even a tick? Since ticks can cause serious illnesses like Lyme disease, it’s important to know how to tell tick bites from mosquito bites. Of course, mosquitoes have also been known to carry diseases that can make humans sick, such as the West Nile virus and the Zika virus.

Most likely you’re dealing with a mosquito bite. simply because these pests are so common. There are well over 3,000 species of mosquito in the world, 176 of which can be found in the U.S. alone! Different types of mosquitoes are active at different times of day. This means that during mosquito season, it can feel as if there’s never a time when these bothersome pests aren’t out in droves.

If you know which … Read Full Post »

Do Mosquitoes Sleep? Your Questions Answered

a backyard with a deck and a pool

If you’ve ever spent time outside on a warm summer evening—or late at night, early in the morning or even midday—you might have asked yourself: Do mosquitoes sleep? Unless it’s the dead of winter, there never seems to be a time when mosquitoes aren’t out in droves. Surprisingly, the question of whether mosquitoes actually do sleep and how is still being researched. That said, scientists believe that mosquitoes at least enter into a sleeplike state. During these periods, they aren’t active, which means they aren’t out looking for victims to bite.

So, then why does it seem like mosquitoes never sleep? The reason is actually pretty simple. There are several species of mosquitoes found in the United States, each of which is active at different times. This means that during mosquito season, you run the risk of mosquito bites almost any time you go outdoors.

There are thousands of species of mosquitoes … Read Full Post »