We love our little slice of Heaven that is Austin, Texas! There is beauty all around, from the green belts to the hill country. One of the most beautiful sights in Texas happens in the spring and fall, we might not have changing leaves, but we do have Monarch butterflies. Texas plays a significant role for our state insect, as it is the middle ground for their yearly migration. A Monarch’s primary breeding grounds are in Mexico and Canada, where they spend winter and summer respectively. Monarchs are the only butterflies that migrate like birds!
In the spring these beauties lay their eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants. About four days later the eggs hatch into caterpillars (This is the larvae stage). These caterpillars don’t do too much, they mostly eat and grow (you know like most babies). It takes about two weeks for the caterpillar to become fully developed and find a nice spot to start the process of metamorphosis! The caterpillar goes into its chrysalis and spends the next ten days transforming into a beautiful butterfly. This first generation only lives about 2-6 weeks and repeats the cycle. The 4th generation emerge as butterflies in the late summer early winter, and these live 6 - 8 months and are born to fly! Only the 4th generation will migrate, and they will make the round-trip trek once.
With a wingspan of 3.7 - 4.1 inches, Monarchs can fly 4-12 miles per hour, and flap their wings more than 120 times per minute when trying to escape a predator. The highest records of flight for these beauties is 11,000 ft.
In general, Texans are proud of their state, and who can blame us! We have some of the most amazing people living here. We have beautiful places to live and visit. Last but certainly not least we have the Monarch butterfly!
BY BRANDY GAUTHIER
(Photo taken by Brandy Gauthier at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin Texas)
First things first, make sure to get rid of (or stay away from) any standing water, since this is where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs. After a good rain anything from a potted plant, to your kid's outdoor toys become an ideal breeding ground.
One of the things mosquitoes are attracted to is the carbon dioxide in our bodies and on our breath. There are also studies that show they are attracted to pregnant women, beer drinkers, and certain blood types (sorry type Os). We do have a weapon against them though… DEET! There is literature out there that may deter some from using it, but adverse reactions are rare and usually only happen when someone ingests it (be careful with those sprays). So, unless you have a known allergy, you are probably okay to use DEET. How does it work you ask? It blocks the mosquito’s CO2 receptors, so mosquitoes may still land on you but they will not want to feed on you (can I get a Hallelujah). Given that DEET is a receptor blocker and not a deterrent based on scent, lotions are going to be your best bet because you can cover your body with it, sprays would come in a close 2nd. Be wary of the products like bracelets, which say they deter mosquitoes with DEET as these are mostly ineffective. Another helpful bit of info is the higher the percentage of DEET in your product the longer it should work.
Fans are also your friend! A minimum wind gust of 1 mph is enough to make it difficult for mosquitoes to fly and land on you. So, if you are trying to enjoy a nice, peaceful night with the family while sitting on your back porch, watching the sunset… make sure to have a few fans on.
Mosquitoes are also visual pests, and they are attracted to specific colors of clothing. If you are prone to wearing dark colors, or reds (oh the irony) you are more likely to be seen as an appetizer or main course. Your best option would be to wear light-colored and tightly woven fabrics.
Continuing with a regular pest control year-round is important to treat in the warm months and prevent unwanted visitors in the cold months. Here are some helpful tips…
1) If you have a fireplace, make sure to keep any stored wood at least 20 feet from the house. Not only can ants build communities in the firewood, but so can spiders, and snakes.
2) Make sure to seal all entry points into your home! Replace any weather stripping, and block off any entry into the home or garage area. Rodents can find their way into your home, so this is a very important step!
3) Pests that may already live inside your home are not affected by the decrease in temperature, they will continue to thrive if it is not handled properly
4) Continue having EnviroGuard treat your home, including all entry points (doors, windows, and weep holes) to protect it, and ready it for the Spring is a must!
5) It is said that cockroaches can survive the apocalypse, so you better believe they can and will survive a winter. In fact, the cooler weather doesn’t even slow them down.
Let’s start with how dirty these buggers are. Cockroaches will eat virtually anything from crumbs on your floor to dog droppings in a yard (like the common house fly). Any bacteria they consume can stay in their digestive track for months or even years! As these guys scurry around, they track that bacteria all over your home (I promise you don’t want to know how). Not only have cockroaches been linked to illnesses such as E. Coli, Staph, and Salmonella, they also cause allergies and asthma. According to the WHO an estimated 300 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. They have made a direct correlation between children living in urban areas suffering from asthma, and their contact with cockroaches. About 23-60% of people with asthma are sensitive to cockroach allergens.
Cockroaches have been on earth for millions of years, so they survived whatever it was that ultimately killed the dinosaurs! These guys can live for 1 week without its head, 2 weeks without food, 1 month without water, and can hold their breath for 40 minutes. Cockroaches can also survive cold temps down to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but they start looking for warmer places to hunker down in when it gets down to about 32 degrees.
If you do see or suspect you have roaches it is important to call a professional and reputable pest control company. When we service your property we use a treatment that will help keep away general roaches, but if you do happen to get a particularly bad infestation we can create a unique treatment plan for your home.
BY BRANDY GAUTHIER