ABC Blog

Please choose a city to view local blog posts:

How Energy Efficient Are Solar Screens?

 

Solar screens are the most effective window treatments that you can apply to your home. They are great for lowering energy bills by stopping the heat transfer through your windows and doors while still maintaining your view. Window film, interior products, or awnings cannot compete with the energy efficiency of solar shade screens. The best product to install is the 90% shade factor solar screens which are and incredibly pet resistant pvc coated polyester material. What color of solar screen should you choose? The darker colors are more efficient and also have the best view. However there are many different colors and you should pick the color you will be most happy with. Remember, the darker the color the better the view.

Which windows or doors on my house should you do? Many companies will tell you for maximum energy efficiency, solar screens should protect all windows and doors. This is … Read Full Post »

Watering Trees in Texas Summer

While attempting the near impossible task of maintaining a green yard in the middle of a Central Texas summer, it is important not to neglect your trees when watering your yard. Frequent drought conditions and the Texas heat can take a toll on any shrub or tree, but it can be especially damaging to newly planted trees. The most limiting factor for newly planted tree growth and survival is a lack of adequate water. Without enough water, young trees experience slowed root and shoot growth which can cause the tree to become stunted. Once stunting occurs, it is very difficult for a tree to make up the lost growth. Drought injury on tree leaves include wilting, curling at the edges, yellowing; leaves might be smaller size drop early or stay on the branches even though dead and/or brown. Drought stress might not kill trees immediately but it might set them … Read Full Post »

Venomous Spiders in Texas

Texas has two venomous species of spiders, the black widow (Latrodectus mactans) and the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). Both of these species of spiders can be found indoors and outdoors throughout the State. The female black widow can be identified by its jet black color, globular abdomen with a reddish or yellowish hourglass on the underside. Male, black widow spiders are smaller, brown and nondescript. The black widow spider is aptly named because the female usually eats the male after mating. The venom of the black widow is a neurotoxin and can lead to severe systemic reactions and in rare cases, death. The black widow’s venom is reportedly 15 times more toxic than the venom of the prairie rattlesnake. However, only a minute quantity is injected with each bite. The most severe reactions occur in children and older adults. Black widow spiders can frequently be found in woodpiles, boxes, outdoor … Read Full Post »

Understanding Scorpions

Scorpions are arachnids, close relatives of ticks, mites and spiders. They are easily recognized by their characteristic shape. Scorpions prefer dryland habitats, but they do occur throughout Texas. They can be a nuisance when they interact with humans, because they will sting when disturbed.


Description

All scorpions have a long, slender body with a five-segmented tail that can be arched over the back. The tail ends in a bulb-like poison gland or stinger. Scorpions have four pairs of legs and two large pincer-bearing arms (pedipalps) in front. Scorpions are well equipped to defend themselves or attack prey with their pincers and stinger. Between the last pair of legs is a comblike structure (pectines) that is used to identify surface textures and to detect prey.

Scorpions have two eyes on the top of the head, and usually two to five pairs of eyes along the front corners of the head. They do not see … Read Full Post »

Getting to Know Chiggers

chiggers in Texas

Common chiggers, also known as berry bugs, harvest mites, “jiggers” and “redbugs,” are tiny pests whose size don’t match the amount of torment they can cause humans. Chiggers attach themselves to tender skin areas to feed. The bites can cause intense itching and small reddish welts. Chiggers in Texas can be a big pain for families who enjoy spending time outside.

Getting to Know Chiggers

Because chiggers are so small, they are hard to avoid. Most people cannot see these minuscule creatures without a magnifying glass, and so the bites may be the only indication that the bugs have infested a certain area.

How to Identify Chiggers

In the larval stage, chiggers are orange, yellow or light red. They are less than 1/150 of an inch in diameter, with hairy bodies. Larvae have six legs and their mouthparts include two pairs of grasping palps with forked claws. The nymphs and adults have eight … Read Full Post »

What Are Wood Wasps?

One of the more unusual insects you are likely to see is the wood wasp.  The terms wood wasp and horntail describe wood-boring insects in the families Siricidae, Xiphydriidae, Anaxyelidae, and Orussidea.  They are not wasps at all.  You are most likely to see these large insects that normally are attracted to and complete their life cycles in recently dead or dying conifer trees.  Timber, salvaged from fire damaged forests may be processed into infested lumber that can eventually lead to emergence of adult wasps in completed buildings.  These insects are nuisance invaders and are not harmful to humans.

Wood wasps are 1-inch in length, have an elongated, cylindrical body without a noticeable constricted “waist.”  They are often black or metallic in color.  They buzz while flying.  The female is large and has a long ovipositor, which is used only for egg laying and cannot be used to sting in defense.  … Read Full Post »

Termite Season Approaches: Tips for Homeowners

With the arrival of spring, homeowners need to be on guard for an annual menace that threatens their homes: termites. April and May are the height of termite season – the time when the temperature is just right for termites to begin swarming out of their nests to build new colonies in another location. These “swarmers” look a lot like flying ants – but the damage they can do in the long run is much more serious.

Homeowners who see flying termites need to pay special attention. First, you need to find out if they came from your property. Termites commonly live underground, but tunnel into your house to eat the wood as a food source. Be on the lookout for tunnels on your home made of mud. If the swarmers seem to be mostly indoors, it’s a good sign you’re already infested.

If they’re coming over from the neighbor’s property, you … Read Full Post »

Spring Plumbing Tips

Hanging a picture frame is one thing, but trying to do it yourself on any of your home plumbing can not only be expensive and dangerous, but could also drop you into some legal hot water! Most people are happy doing minor fixes like a leaky faucet, but when it comes to just about anything else involving water, it’s best to leave it to a professional master plumber. If you don’t know what you’re doing, messing with a plumbing system can result in not only serious damage and expensive repair bills, but potential health hazards.

There are still some Spring maintenance tips you can follow to protect your home against plumbing problems. Consider the following list:

  • Check faucets for drips or leaks. Make repairs to save water.
  • Check toilets for hidden leaks. Add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl … Read Full Post »

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Replace or clean your furnace filter

It should be checked once a month and replaced or cleaned as needed. Some filters are reusable and are supposed to be taken out, washed with a hose and re-inserted. A dirty filter can lower the efficiency of the heating/cooling system, increase heating costs and cause fires.

Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter

Keeping this clean of cooking grease will help keep a stovetop fire from spreading.

 

Check your electrical system

  • Look for burn marks at the main electrical panel; they can be a sign of arcing inside the panel, which can easily lead to a fire. Loose connections or damaged insulation can cause the arcing. Note: Only a qualified electrician should remove the front panel cover.
  • Trip and reset the circuit breakers regularly.
  • Remove any combustible materials such as paper boxes or flammable liquids from the area near the main electrical panel. Sparks caused by arcing inside the … Read Full Post »

Tomato Plant Pests in Texas

Tomatoes are the most popular crop for home gardeners, but it can be a challenge to grow them in Texas. One of the biggest problems that Texas tomato gardeners face are pests. The best way to battle a garden pest problem is by being vigilant, proactive and consistent in controlling it. Being able to identify pests immediately will help you take quick action.

Aphids and Whiteflies
Aphids are tiny insects that can be black, white or green, which can often be found on the stem or leaf of the plant. Whiteflies are white, but attack plants the same way. Treat these insects immediately as their population will grow quickly. A blast of a hose will usually be successful in removing a few aphids or whiteflies at first sight of them. Applying insecticidal soaps or hot pepper sprays will further help repel them. If only a few plants are being infected, they should … Read Full Post »