ABC Blog

How To Identify a Centipede Versus a Millipede

a centipede

Wondering how to identify centipedes versus millipedes? It can be tough, since both centipedes and millipedes have long, segmented bodies and lots of legs. Also, both are truly shocking to find in your yard. It’s even scarier to come across one inside your house. Fortunately, there are several differences that make it easy to tell these creepy-crawlies apart.

It’s interesting to note that lots of people call both centipedes and millipedes insects, but this isn’t correct. They are actually arthropods. Insects have only six legs, while centipedes and millipedes have a lot more than that. As far as numbers of legs, their names are misleading: Centipede means “100 legs,” while millipede means “1,000 legs.” But the truth is that centipedes and millipedes have different numbers of legs depending on their species.

When you see one of these creatures crawling along, it can definitely look like it has a huge number of legs. … Read Full Post »

Am I Dealing With Fruit Flies or Fungus Gnats?

a fruit fly

When you spot tiny insects buzzing around your home, you probably assume they’re fruit flies and you’re probably right. What about when you see what looks like the same insects outside, or in another room in the house? Fungus gnats look a lot like fruit flies and behave in similar ways. Even though these insects are both annoying, there are distinct differences between them. Knowing which one you’re dealing with will help you determine how to deal with them.

Fruit flies and fungus gnats can appear to look the same, but this is only because they’re so tiny. Each insect is only about an eighth of an inch long, making it hard to see their individual characteristics with the naked eye. However, if you could see each one up close, you would see they look pretty different from each other.

Identifying Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are like tiny versions of house flies. They … Read Full Post »

Cigarette Beetle Identification & Control Guide

a cigarette beetle on a piece of wood

It can feel shocking to discover tiny beetles infesting your pantry or your pet’s dried food. Even if you’re familiar with these small pests, when you find one, you might wonder: Is it a cigarette beetle, a drugstore beetle or something else? Cigarette beetles are extremely common pests in people’s homes across the United States. They are especially common in warmer areas. Knowing how to identify them is an important first step in learning how to control them.

Both cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles got their names from the dry goods stores of yesteryear. These pests infest all sorts of dried items. You may find these bugs in flour, beans, rice cereal, herbs and spices. They are also known to infest dry dog and cat food, and many other things people regularly bring home from the store.

Since all of these are such common items in so many homes, it’s easy to … Read Full Post »

Silverfish Identification & Control Guide

a silverfish

Silverfish are very small, wingless insects. Silverfish eggs are so tiny, they’re hard to see without a magnifying glass. Baby silverfish, or nymphs, are also very, very small. Adult silverfish grow to about a half-inch long and just an eighth of an inch wide. They get their name from their interesting appearance: They are a silvery-gray color, and they are covered in what look like fish scales. Their long, narrow bodies also move on their tiny legs in a side-to-side way that looks like fish swimming in water.

Silverfish have long antennae on their heads as well as long, tail-like spikes coming out of their hind ends. They actually look a little bit like shrimp, although they don’t live in water. They live either outdoors or in our houses, where they can cause hidden damage to our things.

Silverfish are attracted to moisture and humidity. Outside, these insects might be found in … Read Full Post »

Rover Ant Identification & Control Guide

a rover ant climbing up a tree

If you’ve never heard of rover ants, that’s probably because they’re pretty new to the United States. They came here from South America just a few decades ago. They have since spread throughout the Gulf states and as far west as California. While they don’t bite like fire ants or chew through homes like carpenter ants, they are still a nuisance.

Rover ants feed mostly on sugars. They live outdoors but will infest people’s homes if they can find a way in. In nature, these pests feed on plant nectars. Inside our homes, they forage for food on kitchen countertops and floors. They are especially attracted to sugary foods, like juice spills or crumbs from bread or muffins.

Wiping up spills and crumbs will help keep these ants away. So will giving your kitchen countertops, stove top and sink a good daily cleaning. But rover ants are good at using tiny cracks … Read Full Post »

How Do Mice Get In the House?

a mouse trying to get into a home

If you’ve ever dealt with a mouse problem, you may have been confused about why they were there in the first place. How do mice get in the house? The answer may surprise you. Mice get into houses through small cracks or holes. These openings might be in the walls, eaves, foundation or floors. The surprising part is, mice can squeeze through incredibly tiny openings—holes as small as the width of a pencil.

Mice come into our homes seeking food, water and shelter. Their natural habitat is outdoors, but sometimes it gets too cold or too hot outside. During periods of drought or extreme heat, mice can have a hard time finding food or water. These are the times when they venture into people’s homes in search of the essentials they need to survive. If they find plenty of food and water, they’ll settle in and build a nest.

When mice build … Read Full Post »

Your Guide to Holiday Lights in Houston

the houston skyline during the holidays

Are you looking forward to enjoying festive holiday lights in Houston with your loved ones this holiday season? In a big city, there are enough variations in holiday light displays to suit anyone’s preferences. Do you love huge, glittering winter wonderlands? Maybe you prefer smaller, more intimate neighborhood displays or cheery holiday parades. Whatever your favorite holiday activity might be, something out there is perfect for you this season.

It’s wise to start planning as early as possible for the holidays. Parking and traffic are always an issue in the Houston area. Ticket sales are already in progress for ticketed events and usually sell out fast. Free events are trendy too. Fortunately, some advance planning can help you have a great time with as little hassle as possible.

To see holiday lights in Houston this year, first check out these beloved Bayou City traditions:

  • Lightscape at Houston Botanic Garden: Featuring hundreds of thousands … Read Full Post »

What Can I Do About Flying Carpenter Ants?

a winged carpenter ant

Carpenter ants do not always fly, but when you spot a winged version of one of these creatures, it could mean trouble. These pests can damage your home by chewing through a variety of wooden structures.

As adults, carpenter ants are about a quarter of an inch to three-fourths of an inch in length. Their segmented bodies are typically black, reddish or multicolored, and they have hair on the tip of their abdomen. Adult worker ants are usually wingless, but reproductive carpenter ants have wings and can look a lot like flying termites. These winged reproductive adults are also called “swarmers.” If you see these pests around your property it typically means there is a carpenter ant nest nearby. Unfortunately, this might also mean that these pests are damaging the structural integrity of your home.

Carpenter ants swarm when they are mating, which typically happens in the spring or early summer. The … Read Full Post »

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 »