ABC Blog

Tarantula Hawk: Is It An Arachnid, A Bird Or Something Else?

Tarantula hawk

Before we go into detail about the tarantula hawk, let’s make sure one thing is clear: this creature, contrary to what its name might suggest, is not a spider, nor is it a hawk. In fact, the tarantula hawk is one of the largest wasps found in Texas and other desert environments in the southwestern parts of the United States.

If this animal is an insect, how did it get its name? Believe it or not, this type of wasp, which is distinct because of its large size, red wings and bright, metallic blue-black coloring, preys on tarantulas. When this wasp stings a tarantula, the arachnid becomes permanently paralyzed.  The tarantula wasp then buries the spider in a hole in the ground or in the tarantula’s own underground nest. To finish the job, the wasp lays its eggs on the paralyzed spider. Once the wasp’s larvae hatch, they feed on the still … Read Full Post »

Black Vine Weevil: Protecting Against This Lawn Pest

black vine weevil

The black vine weevil, also known as the taxus weevil, is a serious threat to gardens across the world—yet many homeowners have never even heard of this insect, which can kill entire trees, starting at the roots. Originally from Europe, the black vine weevil made its debut in the northeastern United States sometime in the mid-nineteenth or early twentieth century. Now, this pest has reached most parts of the U.S., as well as many parts of Europe and Asia, and has earned the reputation of being the most destructive type of root weevil.

Adult black vine weevils particularly love to feed on the leaves of rhododendrons, azaleas, peonies, wisteria and Japanese holly. This can cause cosmetic damage—notches and holes in the plants’ leaves that result in a tattered, moth-eaten appearance—but this isn’t the worst of this pest’s potential for damage. Black vine weevil larvae feed on the roots of many plants, … Read Full Post »

Watering Lawn At Night: Good For Your Grass Or Bad Idea?

Watering lawn at night

You’re not a person who likes waste. So, when you heard that watering during the day was a bad idea because the sun just evaporates the water, you did what seemed like the obvious thing. You switched the timer on your sprinkler system to water at night.

After a while, though, you notice some bare brown spots developing on your lawn. You think your grass must need more water, so you extend your watering time. How frustrating is it when you notice the problems only get worse? Very.

By the time you call in a professional who tells you it’s root rot, the problem has gotten bigger and costlier. Or maybe you hear you have brown patch. What is brown patch? The short answer is that both conditions can turn into huge headaches. Too make matters worse, your lawn technician may tell you that it’s your fault.

How?

By watering your plants at night.

Some homeowners water … Read Full Post »

Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist: Tips From The Experts

Air conditioner maintenance checklist

If you’re like most people, your home’s air conditioner plays a vital role in keeping you and your loved ones cool in the summer and warm in the winter, regardless of the temperature or humidity outdoors. Despite the importance of their ACs in their daily lives, however, many homeowners rarely think about their HVAC systems until they break down—but this can become a costly mistake.

Repairs to your air conditioner can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, while annual air conditioner maintenance is quite affordable and more than worth the cost. Keeping your air conditioner running at peak performance will save you money on your monthly electricity bills. This is not, however, the only benefit. Regular AC maintenance can also catch problems early and prevent, or at least mitigate, the need for many types of repairs.

But what should you be doing to maintain your air conditioner on a … Read Full Post »

How To Get Rid Of Springtails: Handling A Springtail Infestation

how to get rid of springtails

When hearing the word springtail for the first time, some people might be surprised to learn that this is considered a pest. Those who live in dry climates are even less likely to have heard of one before, as these small pests typically inhabit moist environments. If you have heard of these pests, however, you may already know that in the spring and summer months, when the weather is humid and moist, springtails can become quite the nuisance. Despite their incredibly small size—most species that make their way into homes range between one and two millimeters—their presence alone leaves homeowners searching for information on how to get rid of springtails.

Although these creatures do not bite, contact with some species can result in itchy, irritated skin which feels identical to many people to an insect bite. This phenomenon explains the common misconception that springtails bite people. Although springtails can’t spread disease and … Read Full Post »

What Attracts Wasps And How To Keep Them Away

What attracts wasps

If you’ve ever heard a loud buzzing noise circling around your head, chances are, you’ve seen or encountered a wasp. While our initial instinct is to swat and shoo them away, thinking the insect is planning to sting us, the first thing you should know is that most wasps are solitary, non-stinging varieties. Here’s another fact about this insect that might surprise you: there are around 30,000 identified species.

Often mistaken for a bee, a wasp is actually quite different. Their coloring can range from yellow to brown, metallic blue and bright red, with the brighter colored wasps generally belonging to the Vespidae family, or stinging wasps. Another distinct feature is the insect’s body. Wasps have a pointed lower abdomen and a narrow waist called a petiole, which separates the abdomen and thorax. Whereas bees live in colonies in the beehive, wasps instead build a nest using wood fibers that are scraped … Read Full Post »

How To Fix Water Pooling In Yard And Other Drainage Issues

How to fix water pooling in yard

Maybe you traded in your old home for a new one and didn’t notice the issue until after the first hard rain. Perhaps you took up gardening now that you have more time and the extra water you’re using seems to have led to a problem.

Whatever the reason, there are parts of your yard where water just seems to sit. You’re not quite sure why. You definitely don’t like the way it looks and also don’t like the idea of wasting water. You want to avoid having mud tracked into the house by pets or kids. Most importantly, you really don’t want your yard to become a mosquito magnet.

No one wants random, unsightly pools of water marring their yard. Here in the south, it’s an even bigger deal because our warm weather means longer mosquito seasons. Plus, when water won’t drain out of pockets in your yard, you are at a … Read Full Post »

What Is Fiesta San Antonio? All About This City Celebration

what is Fiesta San Antonio

What is Fiesta San Antonio? Fiesta is the city’s biggest annual festival to celebrate the rich culture and history of the Alamo City. More than one-fifth of Fiesta attendees come from outside of San Antonio and around three and a half million people take part in this popular celebration each year. Keep reading to learn more about Fiesta, the history behind the festival, the parades, Rey Feo and more.

History of Fiesta San Antonio

The history of Fiesta San Antonio dates back to 1891. Previously known and referred to as Fiesta San Jacinto, Fiesta San Antonio began as a flower parade. The initial idea and concept, like most parades and festivals, was meant to be a celebration. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the festival was meant to salute the heroes of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto; it was the brainchild of Ellen Maury Slyden, the wife of then … Read Full Post »

Composting Oak Leaves: A Complete Guide

Composting oak leaves

Newcomers to Texas and other parts of the country where oaks are prevalent are surprised to learn that these stately trees lose their leaves in the spring rather than during the fall. While oaks give us wonderful shade from the intense sun, they do give us lots of other things during the year: leaves.

No matter how long you’ve had oak trees, if you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably not a huge fan of having dead leaves cover that beautiful lawn you’ve spent so much time on. Moreover, you might have heard that oak leaves are acidic and worry they will damage your grass or soil if you don’t get rid of them quickly.

In the past, you may have simply raked up the leaves and put them in bags. Is there a better solution?

In fact, there is not only a better solution, but several options. Most of them come down … Read Full Post »

Overseeding Weedy Lawn: Homeowners Take Back Their Yards

Overseeding Weedy Lawn

When you look out over your yard, does the sight you see bring you a sense of pleasure and pride, or do you cringe with embarrassment? If you’re in the latter camp due to unsightly weeds and patchy, lifeless grass, don’t despair—and don’t give up! Your yard doesn’t have to be the neighborhood eyesore, and you don’t have to declare your neglected lawn a total loss.

Depending on the severity of your situation, it’s possible that you’ll need to re-sod the entire area, but a far easier fix might work just as well. The simple yet highly effective key lies in overseeding weedy lawns to reclaim the lush, green, beautiful grass that all homeowners desire.

Let’s find out how just a bit of time, care and know-how will help you resuscitate your ailing lawn into a thing of emerald, weed-free beauty.

Overseed: Definition And Benefits

The term “overseed” may sound technical and even … Read Full Post »