Signs of chinch bugs

Contents

Life Stages

The young chinch bugs (called nymphs) develop into adults in four to six weeks. Nymphs are yellow upon hatching but soon turn red and have a light colored band across their abdomens. With each molt, nymphs more closely resemble the adults. There are 2 to 4 generations of chinch bugs per year.

Suckers

The adult chinch bugs insert their slender beak into the grass and suck the plant juices. As the chinch bug sucks the plant juices, they release a toxin that causes yellowish to brownish patches in the turf. The typical injury appears on your grass as the spreading of brown patches of dead grass.

This pest is a sunshine-loving insect and seldom attacks grass in a dense shady area. Discolored areas of grass caused by chinch bug feeding that are in open sunlight several hours daily may be hot spots. Adult chinch bugs can fly, therefore it is difficult to keep an area free of chinch bugs if they are emerging from neighboring lawns, golf courses or nearby croplands.

Inspecting for Chinch Bugs

Scout turf on sunny days by slowly sliding your foot through the sod and watching for the bugs to crawl across your shoe. You can also determine infestations by using a large coffee can or gallon can with both ends removed. Press one end of the can about 2 or 3 inches into the soil, fill with soapy water and watch for about 5 minutes. If chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface.

The chinch bug sucks sap from grasses; it’s attracted to poorly grown lawns. Chinch bugs start out pencil-tip sized and bright red, with a white band across the back. They darken as they mature, eventually becoming black, ⅛ inch long bugs with white wings. Don’t confuse this pest with its natural enemy, the predaceous big-eyed bug (otherwise known as the Geocoris) the faster-moving predator is wider and has prominent eyes.

A Chinch Bug Overview

  • Target: Lawn grasses, corn, and other grasses.
  • Damage: Afflicted plants wither and dry out. Dead lawn remains firmly rooted.
  • Life Cycle: Adults overwinter in tall grass or debris. When the weather warms in spring, they lay eggs on the grass or in the soil. There are one to seven generations a year.
  • Chinch Bug Control: Use Zamzows Chinch Bug Control for an immediate kill and up to three months of protection from re-infestation.
  • Notes: To see if chinch bugs are present, remove both ends from a large can; then push it into the ground and fill it with water. Let stand for 10 minutes, then check—the bugs will have floated to the top. Before treating, water the lawn to bring bugs to the surface. No treatment is needed if the bugs you see are coated with a gray, cottony material—they’re infected with a fungus

Best product
for Chinch Bugs

Widely distributed throughout the United States, there are several species of chinch bugs that are damaging to turfgrass. They are usually found on drought-stressed lawns where they puncture grasses with their needle-like beaks and suck the fluids out. As a result of their feeding, large irregular patches of lawn begin to turn yellow then brown as they die. These patches often begin on the edges of lawns and will continue to get larger, even when properly watered. Damage occurs most frequently during hot, dry weather from June through September.

Adult chinch bugs (1/4 inch long) are black and white with whitish wings marked by a dark triangle on their outer margins. Nymphs are easily recognized by their bright red color and white band across the back. Both adults and nymphs produce a strong odor that often gives them away, especially when pest numbers are high or they are crushed under foot.

Life Cycle

Adult chinch bugs overwinter in dry grasses and other debris that offers them protection. In spring or early summer the insects mate and females begin depositing eggs on the leaves and stems of grass. One female can lay as many as 500 eggs. These hatch in 1-3 weeks into nymphs which feed voraciously and pass through 5 instars before becoming adults. There are usually 2 overlapping generations each year.

How to Control

  1. Mow lawns at the recommended maximum height.
  2. Try NOT to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf surface in any one mowing.
  3. Remove excess thatch and aerate compacted soils.
  4. Improve soil conditions by top-dressing with organic matter such as compost or well-aged animal manure.
  5. Keep lawns well watered, especially during hot summer months and use slow-release organic fertilizers.
  6. Aerate and fertilize again in the fall.
  7. Commercially available Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, will feed on a large numbers of these pests.
  8. Spot treat small infestations with Safer Soap. Approved for organic use, it penetrates the protective outer shell of insect pests and causes dehydration and death within hours.
  9. Apply organic Diatomaceous Earth for long-lasting protection. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. Contains NO toxic poisons!
  10. Broadcast EcoSMART Insect Killer Granules over lawns and landscapes to eliminate or repel all kinds of troublesome pests.
  11. BotaniGard ES is a highly effective biological insecticide containing Beauveria bassiana, an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks a long-list of troublesome crop pests – even resistant strains! Weekly applications can prevent insect population explosions and provide protection equal to or better than conventional chemical pesticides.
  12. Least-toxic botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.

Tip: A coffee can with both ends cut out can be used to determine the level of infestation. Force one end of the can into the soil, fill with water, then watch as pests float to the top.

The Bug Behind Your Patchy, Brown Grass

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: Until this year, my tall fescue lawn has always been plush and green, but a few weeks ago, some yellow spots developed next to my driveway. Within a few days, the grass in those spots turned brown and died. More spots are showing up now—and spreading quickly. My neighbor, who’s having the same problem, says chinch bugs may be the cause. I’d never heard of these pests! How can I get rid of them and restore my green lawn?

A: Sorry to hear about your turf troubles, which very well might be a classic case of chinch bug damage. Fortunately, you can banish the bugs and bring your lawn back to health. The common chinch bug (blissus leucopterus) is found nationwide, but normally at a rate of less than 10 to 15 bugs per square foot of lawn. In those numbers, they rarely cause problems because other insects, such as ants and ladybugs, feed on them and keep their population under control.

Extreme heat and drought conditions, however, can reduce the number of beneficial insects that prey on chinch bugs; when this occurs, chinch bugs populations can quickly multiply to more than 100 per square foot of lawn. Soon, the signs of chinch bug damage appear: yellow patches that turn brown and then die.

The adult chinch bug is less than ¼-inch long, with often with a dark red to black body, white wings, and a white dot on its back. Though found in all types of turfgrass, they do the most damage to warm-season species, such as tall fescue, bermudagrass, bentgrass, zoysiagrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. They destroy by inserting their razor-sharp beaks into a blade of grass and then sucking out its natural fluids, causing the grass to dehydrate and die.

Any time you find yellow patches of grass that turn brown and die—especially in sunny spots during hot weather—it’s probably chinch bug damage. Read on to learn how to stop the grass-killing bug in its tracks, and how to keep it from re-infesting your lawn in the future.

RELATED: 7 Things Your Lawn May Be Trying to Tell You

Photo: istockphoto.com

Kill chinch bugs with broad-spectrum pesticide.

Most turf-type pesticides will kill chinch bugs, but check the label to be sure. Apply a pesticide, such as BioAdvanced Complete Insect Killer for Soil and Turf (available from Amazon), to the turf following application instructions carefully. Many turf-type pesticides suggest mowing before treatment, and others may recommend watering the lawn thoroughly first.

Note that pesticides will kill chinch bugs but not their eggs, so some products require two separate applications: the first to kill existing bugs and a second, several weeks later, to kill any that hatched from eggs laid before the initial application. Other chemicals impart time-released protection that remains in the turf for up to three months, effectively killing the existing bugs immediately, and then subsequently killing any chinch bugs who later hatch.

Try diatomaceous earth for a chemical-free alternative.

If you prefer an eco-friendly option, consider dusting the lawn with this natural product made from pulverized fossils. Diatomaceous earth (DE), such as Harris Diatomaceous Earth (available from Amazon), is often added to livestock feed to rid the animals of internal parasites. While DE appears soft and powdery, its microscopic particles are razor sharp and will pierce the bodies of insects that come into contact with it. DE is also a desiccant, so it causes the bugs that contact it to dehydrate and die, typically die within a few days.

To check if DE has done the trick, cut the top and bottom from a coffee can and press it firmly into the ground near the edge of a yellowing spot. Fill the can with water and watch. Chinch bugs will rise to the top and you will be able to see if they are dead or still moving around. If you find moving bugs, treat the lawn again with DE and test again in a few days. Residual DE that remains in the turf should take care of any late-hatching chinch bugs, but it won’t hurt to reapply DE a few weeks later to be on the safe side.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Reseed the spots left bare from chinch bug damage.

After ridding the lawn of chinch bugs, reseed the patches. If you’re using a two-application chemical treatment, you needn’t wait until the second treatment to reseed—you can reseed immediately after the initial dose of pesticide. Regular grass seed will work, but for extra protection against further infestations, consider an endophyte-enhanced grass seed that matches the type of grass in your lawn, such as SeedRanch Falcon Tall Fescue (available from Amazon). Endophyte-enhanced seeds—designed for bluegrass, ryegrass, and tall fescue lawns—contain properties that help them repel both insect damage and fungal diseases.

RELATED: The Best Things You Can Do For Your Lawn

Dethatch your lawn annually to keep it healthy.

Strong, healthy lawns are less likely to fall prey to chinch bug damage so it’s wise to remove the thick mat of dead grass that forms at the base of blades known as thatch. A dense layer of thatch prevents air and sunlight from reaching the bottom of the grass blade, which weakens the overall health of the lawn. Spring is the best time to dethatch, and you can hire a landscaping company to do it or do it yourself with a yard-size dethatcher, such as Greenworks 14-Inch Corded Dethatcher (available from Amazon).

Cut no more than one-third of the grass blade when you mow.

While mowing keeps your lawn looking smooth and lush, cutting more than one-third of the grass blade stresses the lawn, which weakens it and makes it more prone to future infestations. This may mean you need to mow the yard twice a week rather than just once during times of vigorous growth, which usually occur in spring and during rainy seasons.

Follow good lawn care practices to ward off future chinch bug damage.

The healthier the lawn, the more beneficial insects it will contain—and therefore the more difficult for chinch bugs to gain the upper hand. Starting in early spring, fertilize the lawn every two months with all-purpose lawn fertilizer, and continue fertilizing until the grass goes dormant in late fall. Lawns should receive a minimum of one inch of water per week, and it’s better to water deeply at one time rather than sprinkling lightly throughout the week. During periods of intense heat and drought, you may need to water more than once per week.

Chinch Bug problems, while certainly a nuisance, do not pose a health risk as the bugs do not carry disease causing organisms. Although there is no county agency that can do anything about the bugs, the following information may be helpful.

The homeowner or gardener is often alarmed when he finds the ground swarming with minute, active, grayish to reddish brown bugs which usually appear in late spring or early summer. When swarming in large numbers, it appears that the ground is moving, usually in one direction. These insects are often found to be the false chinch bug. The adult bugs average about one-eighth inch long and one- twelfth inch wide with a dull gray body, mostly dark beneath, and half covered with whitish wings. The young (nymphs) are smaller and wingless or with wind pads, and have a reddish brown abdomen.

Habits and Damage

These bugs do not normally bite or sting humans. Many types of insects are attracted to perfume or perfumed lotions. If insects are squashed against the skin, it may cause a burning feeling for a short time.

As far as is known, these insects do not carry disease. It then becomes largely a psychological problem of seeing masses of minute, swarming bugs on the property.

In the late winter or early spring, the females deposit their eggs in the surface cracks of the soil in weed and grass areas. When the young hatch, they feed almost exclusively on grasses and weeds. When warm weather occurs in the spring and drought prevails, the weeds dry up or mature and the bugs scatter to irrigated plants around the home, and congregate in large numbers.

Plants on which the bugs remain may be sucked almost dry and wilt. Fortunately, as the bugs finish their feeding and become adults, they will usually disperse within a few days to two weeks and will not reappear unless the same habitat is present next spring.

Occasionally the bugs may swarm up to 6 weeks.

Before the bugs become adults and are searching for moist foliage, they may enter the home, causing considerable concern, especially where babies and small children are present.

Infestations of false chinch bugs may be prevented by spraying vacant undeveloped areas with insecticides and by treating these areas with herbicides to prevent growth of weeds and grasses, or by discing and destroying weeds early in the spring before they become a fire hazard.

When swarming starts, keep the grass along the edge of the lot and around the house watered down to the point of leaving puddles. Turning on the sprinkler system for 5 to 15 minutes each hour should be adequate.

Trenches may be dug along the border of the property and filled with water to create a barrier. Refill the trenches with water as needed, especially during the warm part of the day.

Wash paved areas and water lawns frequently.

Insecticides are not very effective unless used over a wide area.

Some pesticides will kill the bugs on contact, but during the swarming stages, this gives only temporary control as more bugs keep moving in to replace the dead.

Residual sprays which list Chinch Bugs on the label may be applied to large areas with greater safety as they are less toxic to humans and animals. Spray a barrier of insecticide around the entire house, beginning with the foundation and work out, at least 25 feet.

Never spray after dark as these bugs hide in cracks in the soil and under debris and may not be killed by the spray.

Treatment during the warm part of the day when the bugs are very active is most effective.

Mechanical destruction of the weeds when dry usually serves to disperse the bugs faster.

Spraying the weeds with oil will destroy many of these insects. No endorsement of trade names of products is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned.

Precautions

Handle insecticides with care and follow instructions on the label. Do not use around open flame or exposed foods, and clean food preparation areas after the use of pesticides.

Store out of reach of children and pets, preferably in locked cabinets. Never keep pesticides in other than the original container.

Never reuse the pesticide container to restore any other materials. Dispose of all empty containers by placing them in the garbage can for removal to the local disposal area.

This information is to help persons involved with their pest problems. Insecticides may be purchased at nurseries and/or pet supply stores. If additional help is needed, contact with a registered pest control operator is suggested.

How to Kill, Control & Prevent Chinch Bugs

Recognize a Chinch Bug
Chinch bugs don’t exactly tap you on the shoulder and introduce themselves. You have to look for them. If you don’t see them when you get down on your hands and knees in your lawn, try the tin-can method. Cut out both ends of a tin can, making a tube. Push one end of your tube into the ground. Then pour water into the can and keep it filled for 10 minutes. If you have chinch bugs, they’ll start floating up to the surface. You may also see chinch-bug nymphs, which range from pink to red and have a white stripe across their middles.

Recognize Chinch Bug Damage
Grass attacked by chinch bugs looks like grass suffering from drought. Along your driveway and sidewalks, your grass blades wilt, turn yellow-brown, then dry out and die. If you’ve checked for chinch bugs and are still not sure you have them, call a professional.

Control and Prevention of Chinch Bugs
If you know you have chinch bugs in your lawn, you can control them by treating your lawn with Ortho® Bug B Gon® Insect Killer for Lawns.

Chinch Bugs In Lawns: Learn About Chinch Bug Control

Have you spotted large dead patches of sod in your lawn? It could be a disease but may also be the work of pests that are just a fraction of an inch long. Chinch bug feeding damage begins with yellowed patches of grass but progresses to fully dead spots. What are chinch bugs? These insect pests are known to plague turf grass across North America. There is a species for almost every climate and their activities cause irreparable damage to lawns. Read on to learn more.

What are Chinch Bugs?

Chinch bugs are turf grass thugs. They cause visible damage to large areas of infected lawn – areas that won’t come back and need to be treated and reseeded. Chinch bugs are hard to spot because they are tiny, but a giveaway is their stench. Chinch bugs in lawns that are heavily infested will emit a strong unpleasant odor if trod upon. Controlling chinch bugs begins with good cultural practices but may have to end with chemical intervention.

Visual identification of chinch bugs can be difficult as they are no larger than 1/6 of an inch long. In large populations, you can often smell them when you walk across the infected area. Their damage occurs in dry, stressed grass during the hottest months of the summer. Both adult insects and their nymphs

cause turf destruction. And both have that characteristic unpleasant stench when crushed.

Adults have black bodies and folded wings while nymphs are brick red with a band of white over the back. Adults overwinter in the grass and reproduce in spring. A female can lay over 500 eggs, which become voracious eating machines. Chinch bug control is, therefore, most important in late winter and early spring with good cultural methods.

Recognizing the Signs of Chinch Bugs

Before you can decide on a method of chinch bug control, you should verify that these are the cause of your turf problems. The damage may resemble drought stressed grass, with the first areas affected along driveways, paths and sidewalks.

Dry grass with heavy thatch is often attractive to these insects. Sod begins to turn brown and yellow, then reddish brown and finally dies. The insects’ feeding sucks plant fluids too, but chinch bugs also inject a toxin that causes the leaf blades to sicken.

The worst activity occurs June through August and occurs most frequently on the following grass types:

  • Red fescue
  • Perennial rye
  • Bentgrass
  • Kentucky bluegrass

In high infestations, there may be 150 to 200 chinch bugs per square foot. Their activities lead to large patches of dead turf. Preventing chinch bugs may be achieved with good cultural practices and thatch removal.

For a surefire diagnosis, sink a can with the bottom cut off into the turf several inches deep. Fill the can with water and watch the chinch bugs float to the surface. If you count 20 to 30 chinch bugs in lawns at any instar, you will need to take steps for control.

Controlling Chinch Bugs

Mowing at recommended levels, removing thatch, watering consistently and aerating the lawn are methods of preventing chinch bugs and their damage. In stressed lawns, their presence is more acute than a healthy turf.

If you have already gotten an infestation, you can try a couple of remedies.

  • Commercially available insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, are an effective method of biological combat.
  • You can also choose to reseed with an edophyte enhanced grass seed, which may repel chinch bugs.
  • Non-toxic applications of horticultural soap or using natural chemicals, such as pyrethrins, may achieve some control.
  • In extreme cases, you may have to resort to any number of turf insecticides, but be cautious, as these can harm beneficial insects like bees. Follow all directions and keep children and pests out of the area until it has dried.

Chinch Bug Control: How To Get Rid of Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bugs are a notorious lawn pest that can cause a lot of harm to your lawn. Chinch Bugs are recognized has true bugs and have piercing and sucking mouthparts which are used to extract nutrition from grass, resulting in the turf turning brown and dying. Warmer areas of the country like the southeastern United States have been dealing with the rising problem of Chinch Bugs and the destruction these small pests bring to lawns.

Chinch Bugs overwinter as adults and come out during springtime to lay eggs on their host plant or in the soil. Within a week, the eggs hatch and the feeding begins. If you’re unable to see Chinch Bugs right away, you could definitely smell them as they have a strong odor that grows as their population rises.

By following our professional DIY guide, you can get rid of a chinch bug infestation yourself. Simply arm yourself with the products we recommend and follow our step-by-step directions to wipe out the Chinch Bug population quickly and affordably.

Identification

Chinch Bugs have different stages of growth with slightly different appearances at each stage. Adult Chinch Bugs are small (about 1/5 of an inch long) and oval-shaped with a hard body. Their wings are black and white and have a little triangle shape on them. Chinch bug legs have a slight orange-brown color. They stay hidden in the grass thatch area but will climb up onto a blade of grass to consume the grass blade. This is a good time where you can see them.

Use our description and image above to help you to identify chinch bugs on your lawn. If you are having trouble identifying, you can send an image to our email address and we will help you to identify the bug properly and offer you control products to eliminate the problem.

Inspection

Where to Inspect

Walk through your lawn and observe lawn damage. Chinch Bugs develop a distinct pattern of damage compared to other lawn pests. Chinch bugs are usually found in the areas where they receive full sun or hottest part of the lawn. They can also be found near a radiant heat source like next to the driveway or sidewalk where these pieces of concrete come together.

What to look for

You should be looking for active Chinch Bugs or Chinch Bug damage. Pull back grass from a moist thatch area that has begun to dry out and you will notice Chinch Bugs trying to climb up on blades of grass in search of moisture. Lawns that are damaged by Chinch Bugs appear to have yellow, brown or dead patches grass that resembles a lawn disease. When it’s severe there can be giant patches of dead looking grass.

Treatment

Once you have completed the inspection, you should then prep your lawn for chemical treatment. Before applying chemicals, we recommend putting on personal protective equipment to keep yourself safe during application.

We recommend Reclaim IT Insecticide for treating Chinch Bug Infestations. Reclaim IT Insecticide is a broad-spectrum insecticide that can treat a wide range of insects, including Chinch Bugs, and it will kill the infestation quick. It also has a long-time residual effect that will keep on killing long after application.

Step 1 – Mow and Water Your Grass

Prep your lawn for chemical treatment by first mowing your lawn and removing the clippings immediately. This should be done because it makes the Chinch Bugs more vulnerable by not having all that grass to hide in and it also enhances insecticide movement on the turf canopy.

After mowing, water your lawn. Thorough irrigation of about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water prior to the application will move Chinch Bugs closer to the surface.

Step 2 – Mix and Apply Reclaim IT

Rather than spot treating, it is best to do a full broadcast treatment over the entire lawn with Reclaim IT Insecticide. To apply Reclaim IT, simply mix water in a hand pump or hose-end sprayer then add Reclaim IT at a rate of 1 oz per gallon to cover 1,000 sq. ft. To accomplish uniform control when applying to dense grass foliage, use volumes of up to 10 gallons per 1.000 sq. ft.

Calculate the square footage of your lawn to determine how much Reclaim IT you need to cover the entire area. Use a fan spray setting to get nice uniform coverage. Reapplication may be necessary until you no longer see chinch bugs present.

Prevention

After the chinch bugs have been eliminated, it is important to instill healthy and regular maintenance practices to promote a healthy turf so that your lawn can fend off any possible infestations in the future and prevent chinch bugs from coming back. Mow your grass at the right height, fertilize at proper times of the year and water your lawn regularly but don’t overwater.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinch bugs are a destructive turf insect on residential lawns and commercial landscapes. They reproduce rapidly and deal a lot of damage to turf grass, turning it brown.
  • Our top recommendation for chinch bug control is Reclaim IT. Apply at a rate of up to 1 oz per gallon of water to cover 1,000 sq feet of lawn. Use a hose-end sprayer to get thorough coverage and broadcast on your entire lawn.
  • Prevent a reinfestation of Chinch Bugs with regular monitoring and routine lawn care practices that promote a healthy stand of turf.

So, you have a little bug problem. Specifically, a chinch bug problem. And you want to get rid of chinch bugs. And you want to do it fast.

They may have already torn up your lawn and left patches all over your grass already.

You’ll need to act fast.

These little pests will easily breed and take over your lawn quickly if you don’t get them under control.

They’re pesky and will eat up the grass and leave almost like drought-like damage behind.

This tutorial will go over some DIY, natural methods to get rid of them at home- quickly.

Ready to get started? Let’s rescue your lawn.

Last updated: 12/30/19.

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Where do chinch bugs come from?

Chinch bugs will wreak havoc on your lawn- so get rid of them quickly with these DIY techniques!

Chinch bugs are pretty small pests, but they’ll quickly wreak havoc on your lawn and grass. They’re only about 0.25” and thrive in sunny, drier climates typically in the south.

They quickly eat through the grass and you must act fast in order to protect your lawn from patches and total destruction. They feed on corn, wheat, grains, and thatch. They’re often classified as Hemiptera and family Blissidae.

Chinch bugs take over lawns that are water-stressed along edges of lawns or where the grass is growing in full sunlight.

Dry, shell-based, or high soil are especially prone to chinch bug damage. They don’t evenly distribute a lawn, but rather leave plots of lawn damage throughout the entirety of the are. They distribute vertically from the turf thatch to the upper organic layer of soil.

Sometimes they can be seen rummaging on the blade of grass with the naked eye, as they’re pretty large. They eat the area between the turf thatch and organic soil.

You can read more about them on Wikipedia.

Chinch bug bites

Chinch bugs may destroy your lawn, but they’re actually pretty harmless to humans.

You may have seen some people report that they’ve been bitten by chinch bugs, but they’re actually really not interested in human flesh. They want to eat grass and nutrients from blades of grass, not humans. They’re not able to break the skin and usually do nothing more than a pinch if you happen to get bitten by one in defense.

People often confuse chinch bug bites with other pests that are often found in the grass, so it’s easy to get confused and assume it was the bug.

Don’t get confused. If you have a bite and it’s deep, it wasn’t a chinch bug. They’re harmless to humans.

Do chinch bugs fly?

Yes, chinch bugs fly.

This makes it very difficult to keep a specific area free of chinch bugs since they can easily migrate from one place to another if needed. So you need to keep them in control or else they’re very, very difficult to get rid of.

After reproducing, adults will fly to a new location to lay another round of eggs and leaves another new generation to destroy your lawn. They may also fly to overwinter by hiding in dense, grassy areas with plenty of leaf litter to keep them sheltered from the winter and cold.

This is why you don’t really see chinch bugs during the colder season as they’re only active during the warmer, summer months.

Chinch bug ID, anatomy, and sexual dimorphism

Chinch bugs are easy to spot throughout your lawn. (ViaSarefoCC 4.0.)

Chinch bugs are about ⅙’’ long when fully grown.

They have a gray/black body with fine hairs, white wings, and dark legs. Wings are folded over their backs and their forewings have a small triangular marking on them. There are both long and short-winged versions of chinch bugs.

Male and female chinch bugs look nearly identical and have no significant differences.

Nymphs are about a pinhead size and change colors over time.

They’re often found in denser grass and appear during the summer months and will lay eggs during this time. They’re hiding in the grass during winter until spring rolls around and temps hit about 50F. Then they’ll fly around and start laying eggs.

Females lay about 3000 eggs over 40 days. Eggs are laid in leaf sheaths and hatch over a short period. The eggs will hatch into nymphs which grow into adults in about 6 weeks, depending on temperatures.

When do they lay eggs?

Chinch bugs will lay eggs from July to August.

Nymphs will hatch and continue development from September to October. Then during the winter months, they’ll overwinter within the thatch layer.

Chinch bug life cycle

The chinch bug (Blissus insularis) lays over 250 eggs during her lifetime, which is about 4 eggs per day. Females will deposit her eggs on St. Augustine grass near where the blade of grass touches the soil.

Eggs hatch in the warmer, summer months in about two weeks with an incubation period of just about 12 days. Depending on the water, this process can be expedited or slowed.

When the eggs hatch, the nymphs look like a smaller wingless adult. They’re yellowish and will be changed to reddish with a pale white stripe across the abdomen and eventually fade to black with a white band as the chinch bugs grow.

Adults have a body length of about 6mm with white wings and a black spot on the forewings. There are long-winded and short-winged forms of chinch bugs.

What do they do to grass?

Chinch bugs will eat up your grass so that it looks like patches of yellow grass.

If you’ve ever seen your lawn in a drought, damage to it forms these pests look very similar.

Drought damage can be differentiated from chinch bugs as drought damage leaves an evenly damaged, brownish grassed area. Chinch bugs will leave mottled gross in patches or clumps unevenly with lines of undamaged grass between each patch.

You’ll often notice this around lawn edges, foundations, driveways, streets, bricks, housing, and other buildings. Take a good look at the grass for the presence of these pests and also look for their nymphs. They’re easy to spot because they’re bright pink/red with a stripe that’s white.

You can also use a tool to dig around in the area where you suspect them to be and see if any of the bugs grab onto the tool. You can also wear some garden gloves and look at the grassroots for any chinch bugs present.

The coffee can trick

One way to see how much of a chicken bug infestation you have is to use simple coffee cans.

You cut off the bottom of two cans and push them about 3” into the soil where the bugs are present.

Then you fill the cans with water and give it about 20 minutes for the bugs to float up. You’ll eventually see a good number of these bugs appear because they need air or drown. Here’s a general guideline to assess how many bugs you have on your hands:

  • 1 bug: not bad. Low pest population. Be diligent and proactive by eliminating the population now.
  • 2 bugs: moderate bug infestation. Act fast before they take over. They’re already likely breeding a population.
  • 3 bugs: severe bug infestation. Will require constant elimination of pests and monitoring of your lawn.

The grass becomes very hot and dry usually during the summer months of July through September. This is why chinch bugs like to come out and feast the most on your lawn.

Here’s a video that demonstrates another way to check for chinch bugs if you don’t have a coffee can handy:

How to get rid of chinch bugs

Chinch bugs are easy to get rid of if you’re persistent.

There are plenty of ways you get can rid of these pests naturally and using DIY techniques at home.

There’s no need to use pesticides at first, but if the problem persists, then you can bring out the big guns. Start small and work your way up.

Getting rid of them will require patience. Be sure you do everything correctly and quickly to prevent them from eating up your lawn even more.

Do good documentation and note everything so you can mark changes over time. Using the coffee can trick, this will let you monitor your efforts to see how you’re doing over time and you’re doing with your extermination of chinch bugs.

Oh, and be patient.

Will grass grow back after chinch bug infestation?

Yes, with proper care and maintenance, you can always regrow your lawn and repair any chinch bug damage done to your lawn.

Of course, this vastly depends on the damage that has already been done. We’ll cover more about this later. Your first objective will be to get them in control rather than repairing your lawn!

What if they’re in my house?

Chinch bugs don’t really infest the house unless they’re just stray and wandering around.

Typically, they can be tracked into the home if you have pets or kids (or yourself) walking on the lawn and then carrying them into your house. They won’t naturally go into your home and infect it for no reason.

There’s no lawn there, and there’s no thatch. Even if you have a ton of indoor plants, as long as they’re not grassy types, you should have no problem with chinch bugs in your home. Unless you have plants like cat grass or wheatgrass, you should have chinch bug problems.

They’re likely just lost souls that someone found their way right into your home. Just eliminate them and be sure you’re not tracking them in somehow. Also, check your kids and pets, and be sure to check the shoes, clothing, and anything else that can be used as a vessel for bug transportation.

Dawn dish soap

Using Dawn dish soap is an effective way to get rid of Chinch bugs or any other lawn pests.

Although, keep in mind that this method is effective whether or not you use Dawn-branded dish soap. Any generic brand will suffice.

Pesticides will kill pests, but they’re not safe for pets and children. And this is especially something to be aware of if you have fruits or vegetables near your lawn, as volatile airborne pesticides can easily land on your edible plants.

Using insecticidal soaps will do much better for your edibles, children, and pets (not that you shouldn’t supervise and keep them away from the treated areas on your lawn). You can make your own soap at home DIY style that can kill chinch bugs, aphids, and some spider mites.

DIY chinch bug killer

This is how to make a DIY dish soap for chinch bugs:

Step 1: Get 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of dish soap, and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil (any kind).

Step 2: Get a large container.

Step 3: Mix all 3 liquids into the container. Don’t stir. Stirring will just make the solution bubble and harder to handle.

Step 4: Get a spray bottle.

Step 5: Pour the solution into the spray bottle.

Step 6: Spray all affected areas of your lawn with the dish soap. Be sure to be generous in your spraying if you have a lot of chinch bugs.

For extra strength, use baking soda, garlic, and molasses with your mixture.

Also, be careful if you have sensitive plants as this mixture can kill wax coating on some plant leaves. Always test on a single plant first. This also applies to your lawn. Use the same method and only spray at a small area first before going liberal with the spray.

Continue reapplying the spray every other day for a week. Repeat if necessary after assessing the population.

Bug killer and Triazicide

Chinch bug damage to lawns almost seems like drought damage.

If the pests get really bad, consider using standard bug killer made for chinch bugs and other lawn pests. Triazicide is another popular choice that works well for chinch bugs.

What pesticide kills chinch bugs?

You should also look into Sunniland, Bayer, Ortho, and others. Do your research should you go down this route since now you’re not using natural methods anymore and this could pose a harmful substance to your lawn.

Suppose the bugs are going crazy on your lawn, what do you do?

The best way to go about this is to use insecticidal soap, which you can grab at any garden shop. Go for the organic variety if possible, or at least all-natural one. A lot of brands offer a natural solution which will be much better for your lawn, children, and pets.

Look for solutions containing bifenthrin and/or acephate. Also, look for something in a granulated form rather than a spray. You can apply granular with a spreader that’s used for fertilizer. Be sure to use as directed until the population of the pests reduces significantly.

Chinch bug damage repair

St. Augustine grass becomes the favorite grass among chinch bugs.

Suppose your lawn has been ruined by chinch bugs, the easiest way to fix this would be to do the following best practices:

  • Water more often
  • Use turfgrass that’s resistant to chinch bugs
  • Apply pesticides
  • Resod damaged areas
  • Fertilize new grass
  • Overseed damaged areas with perennial ryegrasses, fescues, and similar grass types

Remember, chinch bugs damage is often confused with drought damage. Read the first introductory paragraph to understand the differences between chinch bug and drug damage. The lawn can grow back even after chinch bug damage. But you should really look for the color of grass:

If it’s yellow, the grass should recover. Any other color that’s darker won’t and you’ll have to reseed the lawn to get your grass back.

One type of grass that’s debated highly against using is St. Augustine grass, AKA Stenotaphrum secundatum. The reason is that chinch bugs prefer eating this type of grass and you’re just asking for trouble. This grass is often grown through zones 8 through 10.

Keeping chinch bugs away from your grass

Chinch bugs need to be managed properly and quickly before your lawn is ruined. Repair your lawn only after they’re eliminated. (ViaxpdaCC 4.0. )

After you’ve started diminishing the population slowly but surely, you can start to take measures to ensure that they don’t come back and infest your lawn all over again.

The first thing you should do is to remove the layer of grass that lies on the soil. This is the layer that’s often referred to as the “thatch,” which takes up about ¾ of an inch and builds up over time.

Chinch bugs like to take shelter here and getting rid of this layer will definitely help stop them from coming back again. You can use an aerator for lawn aerating shoes. These tools will easily get rid of the thatch and keep the chinch bugs out.

You should also practice good lawn care by making sure to keep the grass trimmed and apply compost, manure, and other supplements to help bring back the damaged areas.

Use a good quality fertilizer and aged manure to help bring your lawn back quickly from chinch bug damage.

Practice mowing your lawn at least once a week to keep the clippings short which will keep the thatch layer in check.

During the summer months, keep your lawn hydrated well but don’t water too much or else you’ll easily attract more pets. Also, keep track of when you water- it’s best to do so during the evening to avoid shocking the lawn from burns.

How long does it take to get rid of them?

With constant care for your lawn, applying the DIY techniques mentioned in this guide, and patience, you can get your lawn back within a month depending on how bad the infestation was.

  • For mild chinch bug infestations, it should only take a week or two to eliminate them.
  • For moderate chinch bug infestation, it may take two or three weeks to get rid of them.
  • For severe or extreme chinch bug infestations, this may take a long time to eliminate all of them.

After you’re sure the bugs are gone, seeding and reseeding your lawn all depends on many factors. If you’re wondering how long it’ll take to get your lawn back, other than assessing the extent of the damage, factors such as:

  • Type of grass
  • Weather/season
  • Fertilizers
  • Mulching
  • Supplements
  • Watering schedule

All have an effect on how fast your lawn will grow back. So keep that in mind when you’re trying to repair the chinch bug damage that your grass took.

Did you get rid of the chinch bugs?

With patience and continual care, you can repair the lawn damage from chinch bugs!

Well, that should do it.

If you’re still having problems with chinch bugs, post what you’ve tried so far here in the comments sections and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP.

Or if you’ve had success with this or experience, we’d all like to hear it so we can all benefit from it! Let me know in the comments section as well!

Thanks for reading.

Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.

I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).

Fight nature with nature.

How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

False Chinch Bug

Published 10/10

In this Guideline:

  • Identification
  • Life cycle
  • Damage
  • Management
  • About Pest Notes
  • Publication
  • Glossary


Figure 1. Adult false chinch bug.
Figure 2. Nymphs of false chinch bug.


Figure 3. Adult bigeyed bug, a similar-looking predatory insect that can be confused with chinch bugs.

The false chinch bug, Nysius raphanus (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae), is a small insect commonly found within grassy or weedy fields, pastures, and foothills. Each spring, once the plants in these areas dry up, the false chinch bug migrates to find new places to feed. This becomes a nuisance for homeowners when these bugs migrate into their landscapes and homes and can cause problems for gardeners and farmers.

False chinch bug problems often are most serious in years with wet, cool springs. Above average rainfall encourages abundant growth of weeds and grasses in areas with natural vegetation. Relatively cool spring and early summer weather prolongs the survival of these plants, resulting in greater increases in false chinch bug populations, which reproduce on this vegetation.

IDENTIFICATION

Adults are grayish-brown, slender, and about 1/8 to 1/6 inch long. Like many other insects in the order Hemiptera, their forewings are partly thickened and partly membranous so when folded, the tips of the wings overlap, forming a fairly well-defined X on the back of the body (Figure 1). Immature stages (nymphs) lack wings and, from a distance, look like individual coffee grounds in size and color. Nymphs are a mottled gray brown often with reddish or orangish markings on the abdomen (Figure 2).

Both immature and adult false chinch bugs feed on plants through a proboscis, a hypodermic-needlelike structure they use to probe into plant tissue and drink up plant fluids. This type of feeding can cause severe damage to plants that are unable to compensate for lost leaf tissue and sap.

Don’t confuse false chinch bugs with other similar-looking bugs in the same family, the seed bug family Lygaeidae. Bigeyed bugs, which are wider and have larger eyes, are beneficials that feed on pest insects and mites (Figure 3). These never occur in abundance as do false chinch bugs. Another Lygaeid, the southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis, sometimes feeds on turfgrass, but rarely does it significantly damage lawns in California, except for St. Augustine grass. Adults of this species are black with whitish wings.

LIFE CYCLE

False chinch bugs spend the winter as nymphs and adults, usually in uncultivated areas beneath debris or in plants, often feeding on mustards or other winter annual plants. As new spring plant growth increases, so do populations of false chinch bugs. Adults lay eggs in soil cracks or loose soil around plants. After hatching, nymphs feed on weeds, especially mustards, molt three times, and develop into adults in about three weeks. There can be several generations a year.

As weedy mustards and other cruciferous plants dry out and die, false chinch bugs move into irrigated crops or landscapes. Adults are good flyers and can move significant distances. False chinch bugs tend to aggregate in large groups on plants or on walls of houses.

DAMAGE

In normal years, false chinch bugs are considered a pest only of seedlings. Plants might wilt but only rarely die. Larger annual plants and established perennials have sufficient size to be relatively unaffected by attacks against them. However, when populations are high in wet years, the sheer numbers of these pests can cause alarm for farmers and homeowners alike. Homeowners have been particularly hard hit, as waves of these insects completely envelop garden and landscape plants. Some homeowners have stated that it appears as if the ground is moving. Also, small false chinch bugs often are able to get underneath sliding screen patio doors and enter into homes, where they become a nuisance.

In rare situations, aggregations of false chinch bugs can result in plant and tree decline, and there have been reports of these bugs killing young almond, pistachio, pomegranate, and citrus trees. This level of damage typically is reported only from the lower San Joaquin Valley. Initial symptoms include wilting and a scorched appearance to the leaves, followed by total plant death; the constant probing and feeding from this pest essentially can suck young trees dry. The decline of young trees often is so rapid many entomologists have hypothesized the false chinch bug injects a toxin into the plant as part of the feeding process.

MANAGEMENT

There are few management options for the false chinch bug in gardens and landscapes. Low numbers do not need to be managed, because most garden plants can tolerate some feeding. Keep plants well irrigated to compensate for loss of sap due to chinch bug feeding. If your garden is near an uncultivated area with a lot of mustard, you might want to consider using row covers or caps to protect vegetable seedlings until migration had ended.

Usually the mass migration lasts only one week at most. These insects move predominantly in the cooler mornings or late evenings, so water sprinkling can help reduce movement during these two periods. Creating a water moat around gardens also can reduce insect infestation.

Prevent entry into houses by making sure screens on windows and patio doors are intact and sealing up other entryways. Some pest control companies or homeowners will apply a pesticide around the perimeter of the house to keep the bugs out. However, these products have very short residual, meaning they can save you from insects in your yard today but have little effect on those that arrive tomorrow. A better approach is to seal up entryways. If bugs get into houses, vacuum them up.

WARNING ON THE USE OF PESTICIDES

PUBLICATION INFORMATION

Pest Notes: False Chinch Bug
UC ANR Publication 74153

Authors: D. R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern Co.; and W. J. Bentley, UC Statewide IPM Program, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier.
Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

Top of page

By: Michael E. Merchant and Dale A. Mott

The southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis Barber, is one of the most important insect pests of St. Augustinegrass in Texas. It can be a problem anywhere St. Augustinegrass is grown, causing most damage in the Gulf Coast region and in the southern half of the state.

Although it is a serious pest only on St. Augustinegrass lawns, the southern chinch bug occasionally may feed on zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, bahiagrass or bermudagrass. The common chinch bug, Blissus leucopterus leucopterus (Say), is a closely-related species that is a pest of grain crops in Texas and throughout the Midwest. This species also occasionally damages turfgrass and may be responsible for infrequent reports of chinch bugs in bermudagrass, fescue and zoysiagrass lawns.

Expanding, irregular patches of dead or stunted grass surrounded by a halo of yellowing, dying chinch bugs. These islands of dying grass tend to increase in size and merge as insect numbers increase. Damage can develop rapidly, especially in sunny locations during hot, dry weather (Figure 1).

Chinch bug damage can be confused with certain lawn diseases or other physiological disorders. For example, brown patch is a common disease affecting the leaf blades of St. Augustinegrass. Brown patch symptoms, however, usually occur in a circular or semi-circular pattern, as opposed to the irregular-shaped areas of dead and dying grass that result from chinch bug feeding. Chinch bug damage also can be difficult to distinguish from that caused by drought. Detecting significant numbers of the insects themselves is the best proof of chinch bug damage.

Adult southern chinch bugs are small and slender, measuring ⅙ to ⅕ of an inch long. They have black bodies with white wings, each of which bears a distinctive, triangular black mark. Normally, some of the adults at any given site will have full-sized, functional wings. Other ones will be short-winged and cannot fly. (More details on distinguishing chinch bugs from the common beneficial insect – the big-eyed bug – are in “Tips for Professionals” below.) Recently hatched nymphs are wingless, yellow or pinkish-red with a light-colored band across their backs (abdomen). After each molt the nymphs more closely resemble the adults. Before the last molt, nymphs are black or brownish-black, and have a white spot and two small wing pads on their backs.

Biology and Habits

Adult chinch bugs in Texas are inactive during the winter. Reproduction begins with warmer weather in the spring. Under optimal conditions, each female can deposit up to 300 eggs, which hatch in approximately 2 weeks.

The nymphal (immature) stage lasts less than 30 days during warmer weather, while the entire life cycle lasts 7 to 8 weeks. This rapid development allows time for three to five chinch bug generations each year. However, as the season progresses, generations tend to overlap, so all stages are found at the same time.

Mouthparts of the southern chinch bug consist of a long, slender beak, which is held close to the midline of the insect’s underside when the bug is not feeding. Chinch bug damage is probably due not just to the direct effects of feeding, but also to phytotoxic effects of the saliva.

Managing Chinch Bugs

Cultural Control

Managing this pest begins with proper lawn care. By keeping thatch to a minimum, for example, you reduce chinch bug numbers and make other control methods more effective. Thatch is the layer of dead plant material found between the green tops of the grass plant and the soil below. It provides a protective home for chinch bugs and chemically binds with many insecticides, making such controls less effective.

Proper mowing practices can help reduce thatch buildup. Excessive thatch forms when soil microbes are unable to break down dead plant material as fast as it is added. This can occur when grass is mowed too infrequently. For optimum turfgrass health, no more than 35 to 40 percent of the leaf blade should be removed at a time when mowing. This means that lawns generally should be mowed at least once a week during the growing season. Mulching or recycling mowers shred grass clippings into smaller pieces that are decomposed more easily by soil microbes. Research has shown that proper use of mulching mowers reduces the need for fertilizers and, as a result, reduces the build-up of excessive thatch.

When thatch is more than 1 inch thick, it may be necessary to have your lawn “vertically mowed.” This method of physically removing thatch can be done by yourself or by a professional lawn maintenance company. Vertical mowing can temporarily harm your lawn’s appearance because it destroys the tightly woven stolon system of St. Augustinegrass. Therefore, it should be done only when the grass is actively growing in order for the lawn to recover more quickly. You can find vertical mowers at many equipment rental stores.

Lawn aeration in combination with application of a top dressing also can help reduce thick layers of thatch. Aeration involves punching holes in the turf to increase air and water penetration. You can buy a lawn aeration machine from various retail stores or have a professional lawn care company do the work. Top dressing involves applying a thin layer of sand, soil or compost to the surface of the lawn. The application can correct moderate thatch problems by increasing soil-to-thatch contact, thus speeding up microbial decay.

Applying excessive fertilizer also enhances thatch formation and makes the grass more attractive as a food source for chinch bugs. No more than 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet should be applied each year to St. Augustinegrass in sunny locations. Grass in shady sites needs no more than 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each year. Organic, or slow-release, fertilizers reduce the risk of over-fertilization because they release nitrogen more slowly. Local nursery professionals or your county Extension office can provide more information on soil sampling and determining the proper amount of fertilizer to use on your lawn.

Too little or too much water also can cause chinch bug problems. Chinch bugs prefer hot, dry environments. Dry weather enhances survival of chinch bug nymphs and eggs by reducing the incidence of disease within chinch bug populations. Also, drought-stressed lawns are more susceptible to chinch bug injury. On the other hand, over-watering causes saturated, oxygen-deprived soils that cannot sustain the microbes needed to decompose thatch.

St. Augustinegrass lawns should be watched closely during the summer for signs of drought stress. The lawn should be watered immediately when edges of grass blades begin to curl, grass fails to spring back quickly when walked on, or the turf begins to have a dull bluish-gray color. Due to the various soil types and depths in Texas, the amount of water needed will vary. Whenever possible, apply enough water to wet the soil profile approximately 6 inches deep and let it dry out between irrigations. Frequent watering promotes shallow root systems in St. Augustinegrass, making it more susceptible to injury by chinch bugs (Figure 2).

Resistant Varieties

The most commonly planted St. Augustinegrass varieties (including “Texas common” and “Raleigh”) are highly susceptible to chinch bug attack. “Floratam,” an improved cultivar of St. Augustinegrass, no longer appears to be resistant to chinch bugs which means that currently there are no commercially available chinch bug-resistant varieties of this grass.

Biological Control

Chinch bugs are attacked by many predatory and parasitic insects. Examples include big-eyed bugs (in the genus Geocoris), minute pirate bugs (genus Xylocoris), spiders, wasps and ants. Repeated insecticide applications can reduce populations of these predators and actually increase chinch bug numbers. To preserve beneficial insects, apply insecticides only when necessary.

New varieties of insect-pathogenic fungi are currently being selected and tested for chinch bug control. For example, Beauveria bassiana has shown potential for controlling many pests. Currently, however, there are no consistently effective fungal controls for chinch bugs. Likewise, beneficial nematodes have provided inconsistent results when used on these pests. For homeowners who want to avoid using any chemicals on their lawn, however, these products may provide some control.

Chemical Control

Good cultural practices include water and fertility management, and thatch control. They dramatically reduce the need for insecticides to control chinch bugs. However, when dead and dying zones of turfgrass have chinch bugs, some corrective action is needed. While chemical insecticides can rapidly reduce chinch bugs when used according to label directions, most labeled materials do not last long and may require repeat application.

First determine whether a problem truly exists when considering pesticides for chinch bug control. If your neighborhood is prone to chinch bug problems, inspect your lawn weekly during the spring, summer and fall. Look for off-color areas, especially in direct sun, and along sidewalks and driveways. When there are numerous chinch bugs, they will cause grass to yellow. You can often find them by parting the grass at the edge of affected areas and by examining the soil and base of the turf. (See “Tips for Professionals” on page 5.) You should check areas with suspected infestations several times. When chinch bugs are numerous, you might see them on leaves or scurrying about on adjacent sidewalks during the day.

Insecticides can prevent further injury when chinch bugs are abundant enough to cause visible damage. A variety of liquid and granular insecticides is available for chinch bug control. Granular insecticides can be applied with a standard fertilizer spreader and irrigated lightly (⅛ – to ¼ -inch of water) to activate the insecticide. Drop-type spreaders are good for keeping insecticide granules from scattering into gutters, sidewalks and driveways. There they can be washed into storm drains and streams which is why you should sweep up and properly reapply any granules landing in such sites.

Liquid sprays are usually applied using a hose-end sprayer that can apply 15 to 20 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet. To ensure even coverage, spray back and forth across the same area. Watering the lawn before application can help the pesticide penetrate the turf, but irrigation is not recommended following application of liquid insecticides.

Use spot treatments where chinch bugs are restricted to isolated areas of the lawn. Treat the off-color turf and all surrounding infested areas. Inspect the site every 3 to 5 days for at least 2 weeks to determine if the infestation is under control. Spot treatments help prevent environmental contamination. They also minimize the impact of pesticides on beneficial insects.

Products that provide satisfactory control of chinch bugs include those containing carbaryl or any of the pyrethroid insecticides, such as bifenthrin (some Scotts® and Ortho® brands), cyfluthrin (Bayer brands), lambda-cyhalothrin (Spectracide® brands) or permethrin (e.g., Green Light® and Spectracide®). Resistance to the insecticide bifenthrin has been identified among southern chinch bugs in parts of Florida, but has not yet become a problem in Texas.

Safety Precautions

Always wear appropriate clothing when applying pesticides. For example, use unlined, chemical-resistant gloves whenever mixing liquid pesticides. Allow treated areas to dry thoroughly before permitting people or pets to walk or play on them. In addition, always check the label for information concerning safe re-entry times as well as what protective clothing should be worn. Minimal protective clothing includes long pants, shirt, shoes and socks.

Check pesticide label directions for special instructions on disposal of empty containers. Never dispose of unused pesticides down storm sewers, toilets or sinks. This pollutes the environment and can cause costly cleanups for your community. Take care of pesticide spills immediately. Should any pesticide threaten to enter a storm drain, stream or lake, call the Texas State Environmental Emergency Response Hotline at 1-800-832-8224.

Download a printer-friendly version of this publication: Chinch Bugs in St. Augustine Lawns

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Do you have a question -or- need to contact an expert?

Contact Your County Office

Chinch bugs: 5 tips to keep them away

If you’ve noticed brown patches on your typically green lawn, the culprit could be chinch bugs — tiny insects that feed on grass.

Robert Gallant, owner of Atlantic Graduate Lawn Care and Pest Control, said he’s noticed more cases of chinch bugs this year than usual.

“The lawns are really starting to get damaged because of it,” said Gallant.

Rob Gallant of Atlantic Graduate Pest Management inspects a lawn that was damaged by chinch bugs. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)Atlantic Graduate has been applying for permits to spray pesticides at homes in Stratford that are typically not allowed under the town’s cosmetic pesticide bylaw.

Roger Gordon with Pesticide Free PEI says chinch bugs can often be avoided by taking good care of your lawn.

“Lawns don’t just look after themselves,” said Gordon.

To do what you can to avoid chinch bugs infestations, here are five things to know.

1. Keep grass long

“Don’t cut your lawn so that it looks like a putting green, the chinch bugs love that,” said Gordon. He recommends cutting your grass so that it’s about four centimetres high. Health Canada recommends keeping grass even longer — suggesting keeping it at six to 7.5 cm will reduce stress on the grass.

Chinch bugs eat the sap of grass plants, leaving yellowed and dead areas. (CBC)2. Don’t over-fertilize

According to Health Canada, chinch bugs are attracted to lawns with excess nitrogen. If you’re going to use a fertilizer, don’t overdo it, and look for one that’s low in nitrogen.

3. Water heavily — but not too often

Chinch bugs like dry grass. Gordon and Health Canada both recommend watering your lawn fairly heavily once a week.

4. Aerate lawn in spring

According to Health Canada, chinch bugs like compacted soil. Aerating your lawn in the spring can help make your grass less welcoming to the critters.

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of chinch bugs, try soapy water.

5. Use soap to get rid of chinch bugs

Finally, if you do have chinch bugs and want to get rid of them, there are a few options for dealing with them. If you want to stay pesticide-free, you can try using soapy water as an alternative.

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