ABC Blog

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 »

How Long Do Pool Pumps Last?

a pool at a home with two deck chairs and a retaining wall

A pool pump can last anywhere from around 8 years to as long as 15 years or more. The lifespan of this vital piece of equipment typically depends on things like the type of pump you buy and whether you regularly maintain the pump.

One of the primary signs that there might be a problem with your pool pump is if the water looks cloudy or if algae or grime is building up on the surface of your pool. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire pump is bad or that you must replace the whole thing. In some cases, you might need to replace just one part of the pump, such as the motor or the filter. In most cases, pool owners are better off calling in a pro to make these fixes, as someone with the experience and tools to get the job done right can usually quickly … Read Full Post »

How To Keep Grass Out of Flower Beds

a yard where someone has successfully kept grass out of flower beds

Homeowners work hard to make sure their yard looks as nice as their home. They often spend precious nights and weekends picking out the right landscaping and taking care of their lawn. When you have dedicated hours trying to keep everything looking nice and tidy, it is so frustrating when grass suddenly pops up in your flower beds.

If you are having this problem, there are several methods you can try to get rid of grass in your flower beds.

Pulling Grass

This is the most obvious method that you can do by yourself and with no or few tools. Homeowners often put on garden gloves when pulling grass and other weeds to help make sure they get a good grip on the plants. If you choose this route, keep in mind that it is important to pull out not only the grass but also its root system. Otherwise, it is likely this … Read Full Post »

How To Identify Termite Holes

A termite hole in a baseboard

If you spot tiny holes in wood or drywall somewhere in your home or garage, you might suspect termites as the culprit. It’s important to learn how to identify termite holes so you can determine whether that is what you are seeing, and if so, decide what steps to take to remedy the problem. It’s also smart to learn how to identify termites themselves, as well as common signs of termite activity, so you’ll know as early as possible when a problem is developing. Termites are known to cause extensive, not to mention costly, structural damage to people’s homes—to the tune of over two billion dollars’ worth each year in the United States alone.

Termite holes, also known as termite exit holes or kick-out holes, are tiny openings created when termites tunnel through wood, mud or drywall to the outside. These holes are usually no more than an eighth of an … Read Full Post »