ABC Blog

Possum Control

Opossum are frequently considered a nuisance in and around the garden, especially when they feed on or trample plants. They can also rummage through garbage cans or “steal” your pets’ food. How to get rid of an opossum can be tricky but with a little perseverance, the backyard possum may be convinced to move elsewhere.

Backyard Possum Control

The best way to combat opossum problems is to understand their habits. While they prefer wooded areas or open fields near streams, they will take up residence in abandoned burrows; tree crevices; brush piles; or areas beneath steps, decks, and outbuildings.

These animals are also nocturnal, meaning they’re typically active only at night, sleeping throughout the day. This can make it somewhat difficult to “see” the intruder attacking your garden. However, they will usually leave some telltale signs of their presence through droppings, tracks, over turned pet food dishes or garbage cans, and plant damage. The … Read Full Post »

Tips for dealing with Drought

We’re experiencing a drought that is close to becoming a record setter for this time of year in the Houston area. Here are some of ABC’s tips for keeping your outdoor environment in good shape.

Watering and Irrigation

-If you have an irrigation system, make sure that all zones and sprinkler heads are operating correctly and covering adequately.

-For most lawns, watering a couple times weekly is adequate.  Plant beds may need additional watering, especially if they drain well.

-Over-watering is detrimental, contributing to a number of root damaging diseases and yellow, weak plants.

 

Mowing

– St. Augustine needs to be mowed weekly. Higher mowing helps St. Augustine conserve moisture.  Shorter mowing heights shock St. Augustine, forcing it to expend energy and moisture growing new blades, and ultimately weakening and thinning it.

-Bermuda and Zoysia lawns are healthier cut much shorter and more often.

-Make sure your mower blade is sharp, reducing moisture loss.  Dull mower blades fray the … Read Full Post »

Centipedes & Millipedes

Centipedes and millipedes are distant relatives of lobsters, crayfish and shrimp. Unlike their marine cousins, centipedes and millipedes are land dwellers, but they do prefer moist habitats or areas of high humidity.

Centipedes and millipedes do not carry diseases to man or to his animals and plants. They are usually considered nuisances rather than destructive pests. Centipedes pose an occasional threat to man because they have poison glands and will bite. Millipedes occasionally damage seedling plants by feeding on stems and leaves

Description

There are many kinds of centipedes but all of them are more or less wormlike and have a flattened body. The largest centipede inhabits the tropics of Central America. Scolopendra gigantca is its name and when fully mature will attain a length of 12 inches. A closely related centipede, Scolopendra heros, occurs in Texas and may be over 5 inches long when full grown.

Like all centipedes, Scolopendra can inflict a painful bite with a pair of … Read Full Post »

Tips & Secrets to Buying a New Heating & Cooling System

Are you in the market for a new heating and cooling system?  Authorities say, be careful.  Many homeowners who have invested in new high efficiency heating and cooling equipment didn’t get the comfort and energy efficiency they paid for.

Information is the key to making a wise decision.  This report will teach you what you should know before talking to contractors, and it will let you in on some little known facts about heating and air conditioning. Unfortunately, even many contractors aren’t aware of this important new knowledge.

This report is based on important new research undertaken by the federal Department Of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and electric and gas utilities nationwide.  It also draws on the training resources of heating and cooling equipment manufacturers and trade associations.  And it shares advice from consumer protection groups, publications and TV investigative news stories.

This report will teach you the three common reasons most new heating and cooling systems don’t … Read Full Post »

How to Control Fruit Flies and Fungus Gnats

Fruit flies and fungus gnats are the most common flying insects found in and around compost bins. These insects are not dangerous or harmful; however, their presence can be a nuisance, particularly indoors. A little information about the food and environments these insects are attracted to can be used to help us control their presence in places where they are not wanted.

Fruit flies

There are many species of fruit flies, ranging in size from one to two millimeters. They can be recognized by the rather bulbous shape of their lower bodies, which is frequently an orange or light brown color. They are relatively slow flyers, often hovering around fruit or juice.

Indoor compost bins (worm bins) provide favorable conditions for the reproduction of these insects, but occasionally fruit flies seem to appear in our kitchens as if by spontaneous generation, even without the presence of a worm bin. This is because they … Read Full Post »

Cigarette Beetle

The cigarette beetle is one of the most common household insect pests along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast States. It can be found throughout the year, but seems to be more common in the fall and winter months. The cigarette beetle is native to Egypt. In fact, a beetle was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb! In the 3,500 years since, it has hardly changed.

The adult beetles are small, squat and oval, about 1/10 inch long, and are covered with small hairs which give them a silky, yellowish-brown color. The antennae are saw-like and the head is retracted. Many times it is mistaken for the Drudstore Beetle, when identified with the naked eye. Adults are strong fliers and prefer subdued light and temperatures over 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The adults tend to fly in late afternoons and on cloudy, overcast days.

As its name implies, the cigarette beetle is a pest of … Read Full Post »

Nuisance Midges

Non-biting midge flies or chironomids commonly occur in inland and coastal natural and man-made bodies of water. These midges are commonly known as “blind mosquitoes” because they are mosquito-like but do not bite. Midges are also called “fuzzy bills” because of the male’s bushy antennae. These aquatic insects are tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions. Chironomid midges are found in swift moving streams, deep slow moving rivers, stagnant ditches, and in lakes and ponds that are rich in decomposing organic matter. The presence of certain chironomid midges is often used as an indicator of water quality.

Bodies of water in urban and suburban areas are subjected to intensive human use through residential, recreational and agricultural activities. Through runoff, these ponds and lakes often become exceedingly rich in nutrients. Consequently, the variety of organisms in such habitats is usually low with just a few pollution tolerant species developing large populations. … Read Full Post »

Silverfish

Silverfish can become a major pest if left untreated. Silverfish are 1/2″ to 1″ in length, they don’t have wings, they are usually light grey to tan in color and nocturnal. You know they are a problem when you begin to find
them on your ceiling, in light fixtures, in sinks or baths, or on counter tops.    Although silverfish like to eat vegetable matter, they will readily feed on anything in the home. Anything includes meat, pantry items, fabric,
boxes, paper, wallpaper, clothing, pet food or other items in the home.  Most customers we help complain of silverfish which are active in the upstairs of their home such as bathroom and attic areas. And many times this activity is confusing. Silverfish found in bath tubs or sinks are thought to be coming up from the drain pipe. This rarely if ever happens if the sink
is used even just a few times a year.

Here … Read Full Post »

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed on blood, principally that of humans, by piercing the skin with their elongated beaks. Although they inflict misery on their victims, it has never been proven that bed bugs carry disease-causing pathogens in the United States.  Bed bugs are spread chiefly by the clothing and baggage of travelers, secondhand beds, bedding, furniture and laundry.

 

A mature bed bug is a dark brown, wingless insect.  Its size and color depend on the amount of blood that the body contains.  An unfed bed bug is between 1/4 and 3/8 inch long.  The upper surface of the body has a flimsy, crinkly appearance.  When engorged with blood, the body becomes elongated and swollen, and the color changes from brown to dull red.  Bed bug eggs are white and about 1/32 inch long.  Newly hatched bugs are translucent and nearly colorless, but similar in shape to the adults.  As they grow, they molt … Read Full Post »

Rover Ants

For many years now, people in Central Texas have been complaining about difficulty controlling an ant they describe as ‘little black ants’. The primary problem has been that the ants in question may initially respond well to treatment but re-infest quickly.

 

Some people began to suspect that these might not really be little black ants.  These ants are easy to mistake for little black ants with the naked eye (they are about the same size and dark in color), but when viewed through a microscope they are distinctly different.

 

This is an exotic species that was first reported in the US in the 1970s, as Brachymyrmex musculus, and much of the USliterature refers to it as B. musculus. It is thought to have originated in Argentina, where it was known as B. patagonicus and, because this was the original name, this is now what it is being called here.  Although these rover ants have only ‘been here’ for 30 years or so, … Read Full Post »