ABC Blog

Preventing and Treating Flea Home Invasions

Fleas are small insects that can cause big problems for pets and humans alike. These parasites can thrive on both mammals and birds by feeding on the host’s blood via irritating bites. Additionally, fleas can act as a vector for diseases that affect both humans and pets. Taking action to prevent an infestation is the best method for completely avoiding the pest, but an existing infestation must be treated.

Preventing a flea infestation is generally less troublesome than eradicating an existing problem. Here are some tips to prevent an infestation:

•    Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule can prevent many flea invasions. Vacuuming carpets is particularly important. Areas frequented by pets are the most vulnerable.
•    Chemical flea treatments specifically for dogs and cats are easily accessible and relatively inexpensive. Treatments are available as shampoos, topical applications, and flea collars.
•    Avoid excessive contact with unfamiliar animals. Fleas are known to hitch rides on unsuspecting … Read Full Post »

The Importance of Sectioning a Sprinkler System

Having a sprinkler system in place ensures a thriving lawn even as the neighbor’s yard turns parched under the Texas sun. However, sprinklers should be set up to deliver optimum water to make sure that turf grass and ornamentals get enough water to flourish. By redesigning the sprinkler system into sections, homeowners can adjust the amount, timing and intensity of watering to properly support the landscaping.

Considerations for Sprinkler Sectioning

Different types of Houston landscaping materials will have different moisture requirements. Location in terms of sun and wind exposure will also affect watering needs. For instance, grass and ornamentals in a shady location will need less watering than plants in full sun and in areas exposed to brisk winds.

Growth patterns affect the type of sprinkler system and the amount of water needed. For efficient coverage, sprinklers should be positioned to water the designated area without being blocked by taller plants and thicker … Read Full Post »

Landscape Lighting Meets Efficiency and Practicality

Landscape lighting can add an elegant touch to an outdoor space, but many homeowners are unaware that this aesthetic feature can also offer functional benefits. Choosing lighting with high-tech features can boost the practicality of lighting and offer energy efficiency.

Energy Sources

Homeowners have a variety of lighting sources to choose from when shopping for outdoor lighting that can highlight beautiful landscaping. Buildipedia.com explains that there are three main energy sources when it comes to outdoor lighting: solar power, electricity and gas.

  • Solar power is energy-efficient because it uses the power of the sun instead of requiring a homeowner to pay for a power source. However, solar power is only reliable in areas that receive a lot of sun during the day on a regular basis.
  • Electricity is hard-wired to the home to provide reliable power, but this option can be expensive.
  • Gas is reliable and provides an aesthetic bonus by making outdoor lighting appear … Read Full Post »

How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders at Bay

It’s a fact that all Houston homes and businesses have spiders lurking in their walls, attics and other hiding places—even in winter, when they tend to seek shelter indoors. Most of them are harmless, and their presence is actually helpful because they keep insect populations under control. However, one spider in particular can be very dangerous when it comes into contact with humans: the brown recluse.

Identifying the Brown Recluse

These non-hairy spiders range in color from tan to dark brown and, once they reach adulthood, are usually the size of a quarter with their legs extended. The brown recluse’s most distinctive feature is a violin-shaped marking on its back. Brown recluse spiders can be found outdoors under piles of wood or debris and indoors in cluttered, dark places such as garages and attics.

The Dangers of Brown Recluse Spiders

Brown recluse spiders rarely wander out into the open unless searching for food, so … Read Full Post »

The Benefits of Lawn Aeration

If you’re living in Houston and are not taking advantage of lawn aeration, it’s time to get in touch with a Houston lawn care specialist at ABC. The soil in our region benefits from aeration and can help create a beautiful, healthy lawn.

The benefits of lawn aeration include:

• A reduction in the level of compaction occurring in the soil. If you do not have your lawn aerated on a regular basis, the soil will become compact and difficult to work with in the future. Compacted soil may also cause problems with plants that are already present because of the difficulty that plants may have with growing roots down into heavily compacted soil.

• The main purpose of lawn aeration is to allow the soil to gain access to the air. Soil needs to be able to access the air in the surrounding atmosphere to remain healthy and in prime condition for … Read Full Post »

Give Your Pool a Makeover in Time for Spring

Are you planning to leave a pool remodel until the weather turns warmer? Consider getting your pool makeover finished now in order to have your pool ready to go when warm weather returns.

Getting the Deck or Patio Prepared

Not all of the action is in the water, so anyone who wants to lounge poolside without swimming needs to have a relaxing patio or deck space in which to unwind.

Getting the deck or patio ready adjacent to the pool doesn’t necessarily have to involve a renovation. Consider purchasing some outdoor furniture that’s modern, sleek and high-quality in order to achieve a relaxing and attractive atmosphere without construction.

Popular outdoor furniture that is functional and beautiful includes hardwood and wicker furniture in dark shades. Real Simple Magazine suggests looking for furniture pieces that are easy to move for convenience that can also withstand the local climate.

Pool Re-Tiling

Tiles can get worn out and damaged over … Read Full Post »

Stink Bugs Cause a Stink for Gardeners

Most gardeners are eager to share a bountiful harvest with friends and neighbors. There is usually enough to go around, but a few greedy stink bugs can destroy an entire crop in a few short weeks. Take precautions now to deter these hungry bugs from devouring the spoils of your hard labor—even in winter.

Identify the Enemy

Stink bugs are easily recognized due to their brown or green shield-shaped bodies. They have markings that vary in color and triangles on their backs called scutellums.

Stink bugs leave blemishes the size of pin heads on fruits and vegetables, including winter veggies such as kale and spinach. Sometimes excrement is also present. The damage is more than cosmetic—the area underneath the depression or blemish may not ripen. Some fruits will turn brown underneath the blemish.

Take Precautions

To deter stink bugs from settling into the garden, take steps before the growing season is in full swing. Our … Read Full Post »

Handling Firewood Improperly Can Cause Pest Problems

Heating your Houston home with firewood is cozy, romantic and environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, if your wood isn’t handled and stored properly, it can harbor unwanted pests. In most cases, these insects pose no serious threat to your home, but a few species could be problematic.

A variety of insects infest wood. The list includes bark lice, millipedes, centipedes, pill bugs, sowbugs, springtails, termites, beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees and some wasps. Termites are the biggest threat to your home’s structure, but they’re not usually a problem unless you bring firewood into a moist environment and store the logs against your home. If you find live termites in a wood pile, move the wood as far away from your home as possible.

Wood-boring beetles can be a nuisance if they create noise or wood dust. Bark beetles live inside a tree’s bark or between the bark and heartwood. If infested wood is stacked … Read Full Post »

Houston is a Prime Target for Solar Power

During the summer, Houston can hit triple digit temperatures. Homeowners spend hundreds each month cranking up their air conditioners. Instead of purchasing electricity from the power company, homeowners can completely eliminate their utility bills by switching to solar power and upgrading their homes with energy efficient upgrades.

Cheaper Prices and Bigger Savings

Manufacturing costs associated with solar panels are dropping fast, and homeowners are reaping the rewards. Adjusted for inflation solar panels in 1989 cost $8.78 per watt in 2010 dollars, but the average price per solar panel in 2010 dropped to just $2.79, its cheapest price ever. In that same time period, photovoltaic panel shipments increased 100-fold.

Compared to fossil fuels, photovoltaic technologies offer a reliable and future-proof energy source. Since 2002, coal has nearly doubled in price while petroleum costs five times as much. If current trends continue, solar panels will cost about $1.00 per watt by the end of the … Read Full Post »

How to Handle Mystery Bugs

A number of mysterious insects can be found in Houston. Many unfamiliar bugs are harmless, but they can also signify the beginning of an infestation. Most people only have the expertise to identify common bugs. More than 25,000 insect species live in the state of Texas, according to Texas A&M University. It’s important to handle mystery bugs carefully and take steps to keep them out of your home.

If you find an unfamiliar insect outdoors, take a photo of it to use for identification. You may want to catch the bug if it is inside of your home. Be cautious–wear gloves and use an implement such as long tweezers to move the insect. Store it in a glass container with a tight lid. Remember that some bugs can chew through cardboard, wood or plastic.

Keep children and pets away from the insect. Some bugs may trigger allergies or cause serious illnesses when … Read Full Post »