Weigh the options for mosquito prevention responsibly

Are you ready to go all out with a backyard pest prevention plan? Before you drop a bunch of cash, consider this…

Searching for help controlling mosquitoes in your backyard yields plenty of available services and products. To help you wade through the sometimes confusing information, we’ve culled the key points to know about mosquito prevention.

Mosquito graphic A

The concept in the above illustration is shown simply, but its message is clear…

     …the most effective way to manage mosquitoes is by         managing their breeding sites.

And the experts* at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University agree, “The first step in any mosquito control effort is to find and eliminate the mosquito breeding sites from your backyard.”

So, for no to very little cost and the few minutes each week it would take to walk your property to find and remove standing water, you can provide the most effective mosquito prevention to safeguard your family. Nice.

What about other considerations, in addition to eliminating breeding sites? Which home mosquito control methods are most effective? Which have potentially harmful side effects to our environment? Take a look at the chart below for a comparative look at some of the options.

Mosquito graphic B

*Merchant, Swiger, and Presley; Do-It-Yourself Backyard Mosquito Control, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

For more information about mosquitoes and their prevention, visit the Mosquito Control page of the Environmental Services section of The Woodlands Township website.

Orange is the new green

 

Thanks to the Township’s Simple Recycling program

Fashion trends may come and go and when they do, your pile of last season’s cast-offs mount. Conscientious citizens donate these to their favorite charity for a shot at a new life with a new owner. But what to do if your used stuff isn’t up to snuff?

Bypass the landfill and turn your old rags into re-usable textile fibers that just might turn into next season’s must-haves.

Just fill a Simple Recycling orange bag with worn clothes, towels, and bedding—no matter the condition—and they will make this happen. The service is, well, simple to use and takes just three simple steps (see below). When you use it, you help the environment by…

…minimizing landfill footprint

They may be a necessary evil, but landfills are lousy for the environment and a burden to taxpayers. Making room for our trash is expensive—never mind the loss of land set aside for this purpose.

Did you know? In the past year alone, residents of The Woodlands have diverted 85 tons of textiles from the landfill through Simple Recycling.

reducing greenhouse gasses

A landfill is a hotbed of methane and carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, each makes up about half a landfill’s total emissions. Decomposing textiles in them contribute to the level of methane—the most significant contributor to global warming.

Did you know? Every 2000 lbs. of clothing that is kept out of the landfill has the same environmental impact as removing 2 cars from the road. Those 85 tons Woodlands residents diverted from the landfill? That amounts to taking 170 cars off the road.

…conserving water and reducing chemical waste

Nearly every step of textile production depends on water—water that’s loaded with dyes and chemicals. Pair that with a lack of stringent regulations in many countries and the result is waterways used for dumping industrial waste.

Did you know? It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans and 600 gallons to make that t-shirt you’re wearing.

Do the right thing.
Simple Recycling has made it easy. Just follow these:

Three Simple Steps

  1. Request bags from Simple Recycling at SimpleRecycling.com or call (866) 835-5068. Bags will be delivered free to your doorstep within a week.
  2. Stuff those orange bags with textiles and household goods of any condition.
  3. Set the bags curbside on the morning of your solid waste service day—no need to call for pickup. Your items will be picked up automatically and replacement bags left at your door.

For more information about solid waste and recycling services in The Woodlands, go to the Recycling and Solid Waste page of The Woodlands Township website.

Add Height and Habitat with Oxeye Sunflower

Native Plant Focus: Oxeye Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides

Oxeye Sunflower (1)

[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

With showy yellow daisy-like flowers attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, beneficial wasps, flies and native bees, the oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) blooms all summer and into fall.  Since this plant is not a true sunflower, it is known by several common names including ‘false sunflower’, ‘oxeye daisy’ and ‘smooth oxeye’.   This upright clump-forming Texas native perennial is very effective when used in a garden border, native plant garden, or as an addition to a pollinator garden.

Oxeye sunflower is easy to grow and maintain

It thrives in full sun but will tolerate part shade.  The low watering requirement and tolerance to all soil types make it a perfect plant for our hot Texas climate.  At maturity, oxeye sunflower will reach a height of 3-6 feet and spreads into 2-4 foot clumps.  Dead head (remove spent flowers) to keep this long-blooming perennial covered with blooms.  No known pests or diseases affect this extremely resistant plant.

Ground Bee on Oxeye Sunflower

Nature is enhanced by the oxeye sunflower since it is pollinated by a specific ground-nesting bee.  Birds use the seeds as a winter food source while the plant’s stems provide cover for beneficial insects.  Starting the oxeye sunflower from seed is easily accomplished in the cooler fall and winter months.  Although it is possible to divide the mature clumps, this strategy is less successful than growing from seed.

Seeds of oxeye sunflower are readily available from online retailers who focus on seeds of Texas native plants. Watch for local plants sales offering starts of oxeye sunflower or check local native plant retailers.  Enjoy not only the summer to fall color this plant provides, but also the hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other fascinating pollinators it will attract to your garden.

Kick the Plastic Habit this July

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Take the Plastic Free Pledge – Choose to Refuse!

Summer vacation means more parties, picnics, and eating on-the-go! It’s time to reflect on our disposable habits. Plastic Free July highlights how our short-term convenient choices can have long-term impacts on our environment.

Did You Know? “Eight out of ten items found on beaches in international coastal cleanups are related to eating and drinking,” according to One World One Ocean. This is one problem with an easy solution: choose to refuse!

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Top five ways to reduce plastic in your daily life:

  1. Bring your own bag.  On average in the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used by consumers annually. The average time each bag is used is less than 15 minutes.
  2. Bring your own bottle. The amount of water used to produce a plastic bottle is 6 to 7 times the amount of water in the bottle.
  3. Bring your own mug. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own container!
  4. Choose cardboard and paper packaging over plastic containers and bags. Less than 14 percent of plastic packaging– the fastest-growing type of packaging–gets recycled.
  5. Kick the disposable straw habit, especially plastic ones. If you must use a straw, try a reusable one made of stainless steel or bamboo.

Explore more easy tips here! Going plastic-free in July is simple; take The Woodlands Plastic Free Pledge and let us know how YOU will break your disposable habit!

At home and on the go, when you can’t reduce, remember to recycle! Need more information? Call the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.

Is There a Tiger in your Yard?

[Guest blog post & original art by Melissa Birdwell, EfTA Intern]

tiger text_mbirdwell2018

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Tiger-Control Tips

Protect yourself from mosquitoes by regularly dumping out containers holding standing water and wearing CDC-approved mosquito repellent. This is especially important considering that West Nile continues to surface in our local mosquito population this season.

The mosquito mentioned in the image above, the Asian Tiger, is the vector for Dengue and Zika viruses. These mosquitoes are active during the daytime and readily bite humans. Emptying containers of standing water could protect you from diseases carried by the Asian Tiger Mosquito, as that will prevent them from breeding near your home.

The objects shown in the image above are only some of the possible containers that could house mosquito eggs and larvae. Something as small as a bottle cap could be enough to produce a new generation of mosquitoes in only seven days.

Melissa Birdwell completed an 80-hour internship with Environmental Services as part of the Education for Tomorrow Alliance Student Internship Program. She is a rising senior at The Woodlands Christian Academy and has an interest in biological research.


Education for Tomorrow Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting the business and education communities in Montgomery County, Texas. With innovative programs focused on career, leadership and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) preparation, EfTA has become the portal through which business leaders can access and strengthen local education.

The Woodlands Township a proud partner of EfTA, providing four or more Interns each summer with valuable field and laboratory experience as part of the Mosquito Surveillance & Education Program.

 

All A-Buzz – its Pollinator Week!

pwgraphic-for-cover-photo[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

Celebrate the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles during National Pollinator Week , June 18-24, 2018.

When pollen is moved within a flower or carried from one flower of another of the same species, it leads to fertilization, a vital step to reproduce flowers, fruit and plants.  The vast majority of all flowering plants depend on insects and animals to move pollen from plant to plant.  More than 99% of pollinators are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees.

Pollinators are in decline.  Populations of honeybees, native bees and many butterflies have become much smaller in recent years.  Research has shown that this decline is partially due to the increased use of pesticides and the reduction of many native flowering plants.  The work of pollinators is crucial to maintaining full harvests of crops and the general health of plants everywhere.

What You Can Do For Pollinators

For information on what to plant in your own yard or garden and how to get involved with The Woodlands Township’s goal to become a National Wildlife Federation Monarch Champion City access the PolliNatives Project Page

 

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Plant for Pollinators and Water Savings at Free Workshop this Sat!

 

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Plant with a Purpose!

Join us for this free workshop and learn how to create habitat in your landscape while saving water at the same time.

We’ll delve into:

  • Importance of keeping invasive species at bay – 8:15 a.m.
  • Wonders of pollinators and how to attract them – 9:45 a.m.
  • Many benefits of native plants including water conservation – 10:45 a.m.
  • Best methods for seed collecting and propagation of the plants you love – 12:45 a.m.

Attend one or more FREE sessions – click here to save your spot.

Experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Master Naturalists will lead each session.

HARC Building (1)

DETAILS:

  • Saturday, June 23 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Join us for all or part of the program
    • Lunch provided
  • HARC Building, 8801 Gosling Rd, The Woodlands
  • Free but registration is required – click here to save your spot 

 

Thank you to our sponsors:

Houston Advanced Research Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Master Naturalists, Woodlands Joint Powers Agency

 

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Recycling Dilemma #1003 – Moving Boxes and Oversized Cardboard

 

Cardboard Graphic

Whether you relocated from across the country, moved a kid home from college, or just received delivery of a new flat screen TV, dealing with those cardboard boxes is no problem!  Your curbside solid waste services through Waste Management provide a special pick-up day each month for recycling oversized and overabundance of cardboard boxes. The service is provided to each neighborhood in The Woodlands once a month at no additional cost.

2 Easy Steps:

Determine your pick-up day by Village

  • 2nd Monday of the Month: Alden Bridge, Cochran’s Crossing, Sterling Ridge.
  • 4th Friday of the Month: Creekside Park, College Park, Grogan’s Forest, Grogan’s Mill, Indian Springs, Panther Creek, Research Forest, Town Center.

Schedule bulk recycling pick-up of cardboard

  • At least 2 business days prior to the scheduled pick-up day, call Waste Management Customer Service at 1-800-800-5804.
  • Request and keep the confirmation number until service occurs. 

For a trouble-free pick-up, please follow these guidelines:

  • Flatten boxes, then bundle and stack them curbside.
  • Fold packing paper and place in your recycling cart for pick-up on your regular service day.
  • NO packing peanuts, Styrofoam™, bubble wrap or plastic.
  • Place items at the curb before 7 a.m. on the pre-scheduled pick-up day.

Give Moving Boxes Another Trip (1)

Have an abundance of cardboard and don’t want to wait?

Take it to one of our local Drop-off centers: 

The Woodlands Recycling Center | 5100 block of Research Forest, west of Bear Branch Recreation Center | Open Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Precinct 3 Recycling Complex | 1122 Pruitt Road | Call for details: 281-367-7283 | Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed for lunch 11:30 to 12:30


Did you move with more than you meant to, or don’t want to take it all to the new place? Check out the previous Recycling Dilemma # 1002 – Got Stuff? for resources to donate, declutter and discard.


For more moving day solutions see the Moving In/Moving Out Guidelines or call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.

World Ocean Day: Pledge to use less plastic

Copy of How will you celebrate

Summer is sizzling and has some of us grabbing our gear for a weekend beach trip! Many feel a natural connection to the ocean as it covers 70% of our planet, houses fascinating marine life, and connects us all.

June 8th is World Ocean Day reminding us to celebrate the many wonders of our aquatic frontier.

This year’s focus is a call to action on plastic pollution. You may have seen the unsettling images of sea life fatalities; our plastics are reaching new shores that have never seen pollution before.  Now is the time to address the issue before we create a world of plastic beaches.

bottles-cropped

Plastics are synthetic organic polymers created with petroleum. They are so long lasting that all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today, yet industries create more every day. Most marine plastics originate on land as litter. Once they enter our waters, plastics entangle marine life or erode into smaller particles that are then ingested. Every piece of litter we pick up on land helps the ocean and the life within.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today“

Abraham Lincoln

 

Let’s answer the call to action for our oceans!

Here’s how we can start making a difference:

  1. Coordinate your own cleanup
    • Bring a bucket for treasures and a bucket for trash – recycle what you can
    • Leave no trace – leave only footprints behind
  2. Support an organization
    • There are many groups forming their own cleanups. Become involved or consider making a donation.
  3. Not able to make it to the shoreline? There’s plenty you can do at home:
    • Reduce packaging when grocery shopping
    • Reuse as much as you canbring your own bags or bottles
    • Recycle right – stay up to date on your local municipality’s recycling guidelines
    • Refuse single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery

Attract Hummingbirds All Summer with Texas Red Yucca

Native Plant Focus:  Texas Red Yucca

Hesperaloe parviflora

More effective at attracting hummingbirds than a feeder, the Texas Red Yucca is also a nectar source for butterflies and native bees.  Actually a member of the Century Plant family, the Texas Red Yucca thrives in our hot Texas summer although it is cold tolerant enough to survive freezing temperatures.

With low watering requirements after establishment, this striking perennial evergreen shrub produces dramatic 3-4 foot spikes of pink to coral to red tubular flowers.   These beautiful flower spikes provide focal interest in landscape beds, large containers, rock gardens or as a single specimen plant.  Each bloom produces a seed capsule which dries to offer winter interest in the landscape.  The evergreen leaves turn a deep shade of purple in cold weather, further enhancing the garden.

Thriving in full sun to part shade and needing only natural rainfall, this plant is adaptable to any soil. Maintenance is minimal – removing the dried flower spike before spring begins is optional.  Planting this succulent in your landscape or a large container will provide beautiful blooms from May through October.  Texas Red Yucca is readily available in most local retail outlets offering bedding plants as well as those specializing in Texas natives.  Enjoy this easy to grow plant along with the hummingbirds and insect pollinators it will draw into your garden.

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