ABC Blog

In the News: Tiny Wasps Cultivated Here in Texas for Use as a Citrus-Saving Weapon

While you no doubt love having your citrus trees, you’ve probably noticed that you aren’t the only one in the neighborhood who enjoys easy access to fresh fruit. Insects like the Asian citrus psyllid have been wreaking havoc in Texan citrus fields and home gardens, but pesticides may not be the best answer. Mass spraying tends to have pretty nasty side effects, and some species may even develop tolerance to such chemicals. Fortunately, a local lab is taking clues from nature by cultivating a non-stinging wasp that is a highly effective deterrent.

What’s Wrong with Psyllids?

The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, wouldn’t be such a problem if all it did was suck sap out of new shoots on various citrus tree species. Unfortunately, these tiny bugs also create a toxic byproduct that mangles some buds and kills off others, preventing trees from growing out properly. As if this isn’t bad enough, … Read Full Post »

Bee Removal: Protecting Our Bumble Buddies

why do bees swarm

Many people are afraid of bees due to the threat of bee stings. In most cases, bees are not dangerous to humans unless you are allergic. They are a necessary component of the ecosystem and responsible for pollinating many of the plants we eat. All the same, a hive can sometimes be built in an inconvenient location, and bee removal does become necessary on occasion.

The Life of Bumblebees

Whenever you identify a bee colony living near your home or office, the first step to removal is correctly identifying the bee species. Bumblebees have different habits than carpenter bees and honey bees, and understanding these habits will aid in your pest control efforts.

Bumblebees are docile and live in small colonies. They prefer to nest in grass clumps or old mouse holes, but they can also make their homes in birdhouses, under porches, in old planters, or in any other cozy space. The … Read Full Post »

Your Home May Not Be as Clean as You Think

If you’re like most people, your housecleaning routine ends with feelings of relief, accomplishment, pride and exhaustion. The floors shine, and the toilet sparkles. Even the toaster gleams, but did you look inside? If you didn’t get all the crumbs out yourself, something small and creepy might do the job for you.

Housecleaning is quite a chore, and sometimes it’s impractical to move every appliance and cover every square inch with disinfectant and a toothbrush. Unfortunately, if you neglect the little nooks and crannies for too long, dirt accumulates, and it may become a free smorgasbord for insects like the dreaded German cockroach.

Your Home’s Dirty Little Secrets

Pests love all the obvious lures like dirty dishes, overflowing garbage cans and smelly clothes, but they also love the spots that nobody ever thinks about. Grease, dust, food particles, mold and mildew can hide almost anywhere. Here are a few commonly overlooked areas you … Read Full Post »

10 Tips for Pest Prevention in the Kitchen

Unless you enjoy chocolate-covered ants, the kitchen is probably the last place you want to find pests. They can chew through boxes, eat your food and litter the drawers with feces. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent them from infesting a kitchen. You might even reduce your food and energy bills in the process.

1. Keep more of your food in the refrigerator or freezer. Few pests can find their way into these appliances. Cereal and dried fruit last longer when refrigerated, but don’t put your bananas in there!

2. When possible, buy food that comes in cans or jars. Bugs and rodents can chew through plastic bags, paper and cardboard without much difficulty. Bagged frozen food is also a good option.

3. Store items like peanuts, cookies and crackers in glass jars or sturdy plastic bins. Some pests prefer a sugary diet, but all types of food are … Read Full Post »

Alert the Pestparazzi: Mosquitoes Are Making a Big Comeback this Summer

facts about mosquitos

For the past few years, we’ve experienced instability in mosquito activity due to inconsistent rainfall. This year was different. Increased rainfall has led to denser summer mosquito populations. This year’s mosquitoes can be compared to obnoxious has-been movie stars making a gloriously successful comeback. Like yesterday’s faded starlets, they’ve been craving a second chance to steal your time and attention. Celebrities drain you by bombarding the national headlines with meaningless drama and publicity stunts. The bite of a mosquito drains you in a more literal sense.

How to Survive the Current Swarm

Protecting yourself from this year’s thriving batch of mosquitoes is essential. Not only can they ruin your cookouts and make you irritable and itchy, but they can also give you horrible illnesses like the West Nile virus. Even your pets are at risk. Infected mosquitoes can transmit deadly heartworms to dogs and cats. Fortunately, there are many ways to defeat the mosquito’s … Read Full Post »

Our Favorite Frenemies

wasps cultivated to protect citrus trees from Huanglongbing citrus greening disease pest control

Insects walk the fine line between friend and enemy. As much as we want to put them on trial for their scream-inducing and creepy qualities, pests play an essential role in our ecosystem. Here’s a list of our favorite frenemies, and for a little extra fun, we figured we would let them present their defense.


Although I can deliver an undoubtedly painful punch when you threaten my nest, there is much more to me than just my dreaded stinger. Formally, I’m known as Vespula Pennsylvanica, but you can call me Wasp. As a natural scavenger, I like to snack on other insects, like crop-damaging caterpillars and flies. Some of my distant cousins also play an essential role in pollination. And even though I don’t expect an invite to your next BBQ, I help reduce the number of other pests likely to crash the festivities. Plus, who can rock a yellow jacket … Read Full Post »

The Marsupial, The Myth, The Legend: The Opossum

If you’re a longtime resident of Austin, you’ve probably seen your fair share of opossums. At first glance, these silvery, pointy-nosed scavengers don’t seem like anything special. In truth, opossums are far from ordinary; they have many unusual features and a rich and fascinating history full of myth and legend.

Interesting Opossum Facts

Here are some unusual facts you may not have known about the everyday opossum:

  • An opossum can “play dead” for up to four hours when it feels threatened, but contrary to popular belief, the reaction is actually involuntary.
  • Opossums are immune to rattlesnake venom and they often eat the rattlers that dare to strike.
  • Although commonly mistaken for a rodent, the opossum is a marsupial and it’s the only one found in North America.
  • Like a kangaroo, the mother opossum carries her young in her pouch.
  • Opossums have opposable thumbs on their hind feet. They use the digits to grasp and climb. They also … Read Full Post »

It’s Huge, It’s Scary and It Wants Your Tomatoes!

Once you’ve tasted fresh, home-grown tomatoes, you’ll scoff at the anemic, mass-produced ones available at grocery stores. Growing tomato plants is rewarding, but you may run into a few challenges. If the leaves and unripened tomatoes develop holes or disappear overnight, or you find dark green droppings around the base of your plant, it’s time to inspect it for one of the tomato grower’s greatest enemies.

Identifying the Tomato Hornworm

The tomato hornworm is a large, green caterpillar with a curled head and a sharp-looking red horn on its rear. A mature hornworm is between three and five inches long and its markings include white stripes and rows of false eyes on both sides. At first glance, it resembles a ghastly little alien and many new tomato growers are quite startled the first time they spot one. A closer inspection reveals that the little fellow is harmless. Its size is intimidating, but it’s soft, squishy and … Read Full Post »

Rats in Hats

Let’s be honest: rats don’t always have the best reputation. They’ve been unfairly linked to smelly alleyways and unwanted infestations, but that may be a hasty judgment that’s best reserved for rats of the un-fancy kind. Many consider these friendly and highly-intelligent rodents treasured pets, and in some instances, they can actually be quite stylish.

Although the idea of dressing up a rat may be challenging for some people to grasp (not unlike the idea of dying a miniature poodle pink), it’s not as uncommon as you would think. As pet fashion designer Ada Nieves explains, “The rats look very cute and seem to like wearing [outfits]. Rats are very popular these days and the owners love to dress them up.”


Sometimes, you have to let your rat put on a hat and strut down the runway.

Many people believe that rats are naturally dirty creatures, but these balls of fluff are exceptionally clean … Read Full Post »

Mosquito Dangers: What You Need to Know

Along with the enjoyment of warm weather comes the annoyance of mosquitoes. Although you may plan on just ignoring these pests, the frequency of mosquito bites may become irritating, and the potential for serious health concerns should keep you cautious. It may be wise this summer to be proactive about the mosquito problem.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are carriers of an array of viruses. Although not every mosquito is a threat, there is no way to know before a mosquito bites you. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has a thorough list of mosquito-borne diseases. Still, the four diseases most likely to affect any family in the United States are the West Nile virus, malaria, dengue fever, and canine heartworm.

West Nile virus is a potentially fatal disease that causes brain inflammation and flu-like symptoms. Malaria involves a parasite attacking your red blood cells, causing a persistent fever. Dengue is a type of fever … Read Full Post »