ABC Blog

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 »

Rodent Tall “Tails”

Few pests generate as many persistent myths as do pest rodents and their management. Who hasn’t heard stories about “rats as big as cats,” and how some rodenticides supposedly make rodents go outside to drink, or perhaps allegedly mummify them? Here are some great rodent myths:

MYTH: SEWER RATS ARE DIFFERENT FROM WHARF RATS.
FACT: The common commensal rat goes by many nicknames, such as house, wharf, barn, sewer or brown rat. But the correct common name for Rattus norvegicus is the Norway rat. The name supposedly is derived from the fact that the first named specimens were from Norway. Actually, these animals originated in central Asia and spread throughout the world by exploration, commerce and settlement.

The other common commensal pest rat in the United States and many other countries is the roof rat, R. rattus. It’s also called the black, plague or ship rat. This rat is smaller than the Norway … Read Full Post »

Keeping Critters Out of Your Garden & Home

It’s no news that animal waste causes e coli and other diseases. There are plenty of diseases associated with pest animals and their droppings. In addition to diseases, pest animals can cause nightmares for otherwise-happy property owners and gardeners.

Nature’s wild critters can be highly destructive, annoying, and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. Furthermore, droppings are messy and give a low-class image.

  • Deer forage your foliage
  • Raccoons ravage your garbage
  • Armadillos tear up your lawn
  • Squirrels chew their way into your house, damaging electrical wires
  • Dogs and cats destroy gardens and healthy grass
  • Skunks stink up your whole yard

To prevent pest critter problems, there are several non-lethal, non-chemical, non-barrier solutions. The choices are there for homeowners to consider. Think permanence when you consider the repellent choice, as most homeowners don’t have the time or inclination to monitor the pest situation. Remember that pest animals are on your property for a reason. If they’re happy, comfortable … Read Full Post »

Flea Treatment

Flea Biology

Adult fleas are parasites of warm-blooded animals such as cats, dogs, and humans.  Fleas go through complete metamorphosis, meaning they have an egg, a larva, a pupa, and an adult stage.  Under most situations, fleas will complete their life cycle within three to five weeks.

 

The female flea will lay 4 to 6 eggs after each blood meal and can usually lay several hundred during her lifetime.  The light colored eggs are deposited while on the host, but they fall off the animal and are frequently found in the host’s bedding, carpets, sofas, and crevices in the floor.  The eggs normally hatch between 1 and 10 days, depending on temperature and humidity, while most hatch within 36 hours.

 

Flea larvae are slender, white, legless and between 1/10 and 1/5 inch long.  They are free living and feed on debris found in their environment.  The larval stage usually lasts between 5 and … Read Full Post »

Keeping Rodents Out During Winter Months

Winter weather has pest rodents on the move. Rats and mice may seek food and shelter indoors in your home or place of business, causing damage and spreading disease. Here are some Rodent Action Tips to prevent rodents from setting up a permanent residence and to reduce the risk of disease:

1) SEAL UP

Seal up any openings or cracks large enough to squeeze a pencil through to keep rodents out. Steel wool and caulk are good for blocking small holes. Sheet or lath metal, hardware cloth or concrete can cover larger holes.

2) TRAP OUT

If rodents have already moved in, use ‘green’ methods such as snap traps or glue boards when appropriate. Traps can be baited with peanut butter and placed in areas where rodent droppings are found.

3) CLEAN UP

Minimize places for rodents to live by removing trash and debris from inside and outside the home. Eliminate potential rodent food sources by … Read Full Post »

Rodent Prevention Tip: Clean Up Food!

Clean up rodent food sources and nesting sites

Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.

Eliminate possible rodent food sources:

  • Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
  • Clean up spilled food right away and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use.
  • Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean.
  • Always put pet food away after use and do not leave pet-food or water bowls out overnight.
  • Keep bird feeders away from the house and utilize squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents.
  • Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid.
  • Keep compost bins as far away from the house as possible (100 feet or more is best).
  • Keep grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids. In the evening, uneaten animal feed should be returned to containers with lids.

If storing trash and food waste inside the home, … Read Full Post »

The Basics of Wasp & Bee Control

Wasps and bees are beneficial insects, although they are generally considered to be pests because of their ability to sting. Wasps, in particular, can become a problem in autumn when they may disrupt many outdoor activities. People often mistakenly call all stinging insects “bees”. While both social wasps and bees live in colonies ruled by queens and maintained by workers, they look and behave differently. It is important to distinguish between these insects because different methods may be necessary to control them if they become a nuisance.

APPEARANCE

Wasps have a slender body with a narrow waist, slender, cylindrical legs, and appear smoothed-skinned and shiny. Yellowjackets, baldfaced hornets, and paper wasps are the most common types of wasps encountered by people.

Bees are robust-bodied and very hairy compared with wasps. Their hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen. Bees are important pollinators. Honey bees are responsible for more than 80% … Read Full Post »

Rodent Prevention Tip: Seal Up Holes!

Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar! Prevent rodents from entering the home by checking inside and outside the house for gaps or holes.

Where to look for gaps or holes inside your home:

  • Inside, under, and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators and stoves.
  • Inside closets near the floor corners.
  • Around the fireplace.
  • Around doors.
  • Around the pipes under sinks and washing machines.
  • Around the pipes going to hot water heaters and furnaces.
  • Around floor vents and dryer vents.
  • Inside the attic.
  • In the basement or crawl space.
  • In the basement and laundry room floor drains.
  • Between the floor and wall juncture.

Where to look for gaps or holes outside your home:

  • In the roof among the rafters, gables, and eaves.
  • Around windows.
  • Around doors.
  • Around the foundation
  • Attic vents and crawl space vents.
  • Under doors.
  • Around holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines.

Fill small holes with steel wool. Put caulk around the steel wool to keep … 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 »

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 »