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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 »

Ants: Treatment Overview

Ants have become the number one pest in homes and structures around the country. Central Texas has several types that are common invaders – Fire ants, carpenter ants, sugar ants, rover ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, leaf cutter ants and many more. Ants can cause damage to lawns, plants, wood and food. Some can bite and sting causing health problems. They are very resourceful and can adapt to changing environments. Their populations can explode in short periods of time in and around your home. They can be very difficult to control without knowledge of the biology of the particular ant your dealing with. It is common to have problems with several different types of ants at one time.

ABC will send out a licensed inspector to determine which types of ants are currently invading your home and property. They will inspect and identify conditions conducive for ants as well as assess … Read Full Post »

Fire Ants

The fire ant (red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren), is an invasive insect whose sting can cause serious problems.  Where imported fire ants are common, most homeowners recognize them by the mounds they build or the stings they inflict.  However, there are also other characteristics to look for.  Their aggressive nature compared to other ant species is one such trait. If a mound is disturbed, usually hundreds of fire ant workers will swarm out and run up vertical surfaces to sting.  These ants are social insects and unlike many insect pests, they are very organized.  Fire ants are aggressive and will defensively attack anything that disturbs them.  Fire ants can sting repeatedly.  Symptoms of a fire ant sting include burning, itching and a white, fluid-filled pustule that forms a day or two afterward.

 

Colonies consist of the brood and several types (castes) of adults.  The whitish objects often found at the top of … 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 »

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are a vital part of home safety. If installed properly, breakers perform a vital function in protecting your home or commercial facilities electrical system.

All circuits are controlled and protected by the circuit breakers.  If there is an overload, short or ground in the circuit, the breaker will detect the fault and open (kill) the circuit.  The purpose is twofold: prevent fire; prevent electrical shock.  

TROUBLESHOOTING BREAKERS AND CIRCUITS

One of the most common situations occurs when the electricity goes out in a certain area of the home but the breaker doesn’t seem to have opened the circuit. A breaker switch can sometimes open a circuit without its mechanical handle flipping off. You should first try to manually switch the breaker off and then back on. It’s also possible the current was interrupted somewhere other than the breaker due to faulty wiring. In this case, an electrician will probably need to … Read Full Post »

Identifying & Preventing Oak Wilt Disease

In Texas, we have a green luxury that most of us take for granted. Whether in our front yards, neighborhoods, or local park, oak trees are considered to be majestic and beautiful trees that provide a lot of shade and greenery to our otherwise dull scenes. Especially in central Texas, besides the beauty of rolling hills, we have great oak trees to complement the entire scenery.

However, oak wilt is threatening that beautiful scenery quite rapidly. Oak wilt, also known as “sudden oak death,” is one of the most threatening tree diseases in Texas and continues to kill off live oak and red oak trees – including shumard oaks, Spanish oaks and blackjack oaks – spreading from one to the next. This disease is caused by a fungus called Ceratocystis fagacearum which takes over a tree’s water conducting system, thus causing the tree to die quickly. Oak wilt kills off a … Read Full Post »