What's the Damage? - Chinch BugsJune 28, 2019
Chinch Bug Lawn Damage
When this pest gets hungry, it uses its tube-like mouth to pierce into a plant’s tissue and sucks out the nutrients. It then secretes an anticoagulant that clogs the vascular tissues within the turf causing it to turn a purplish tint. Without the ability to absorb water, the leaves wither from drought and none of the nourishment gets to the roots, resulting in plant death. This is why Chinch Bug damage often gets mixed up with drought damage.
Where to Find
These insects are frequent to home lawns and can often be found during times of drought. These pests can be found in open, sunny areas. Chinch Bugs favorite flavors of grass include, but aren’t limited to: Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, bent grass, and red fescues.
How to Identify these Pests
The adults are 3.5 mm long and 0.75 mm wide. Males are typically smaller than females. The abdomen, pronotum and head vary from gray to black and are covered in fine hairs. Wings are white with a black spot located in the middle of the front-wing edge. The legs are often burnt orange. Nymphs (immature Chinch Bugs) take on the same shape but are about half the size of an adult. Nymphs can often be found with orange or red markings and have yet to develop wings.
Normally occurs in July and mid-late August. Chinch Bugs do not become active until temperatures reach 50°F and above. Once temperatures reach 50°F or higher, adults become active, mate and lay eggs. A single female Chinch Bug can produce an average of 300 eggs over the course of 40-50 days. The eggs will hatch 1-2 weeks after to begin the new generation of Chinch Bugs (it takes 4-6 weeks for the new generation to become mature to start the breeding process over again).
How to Manage
Chinch Bug has been a problem since the 1780s when they were known to destroy large crops of grain. They are relatively easy to control if caught early, before they mature. The best way to get rid of them is to treat your lawn with an insecticide labeled for Chinch Bugs like Talstar. If you are unsure of whether or not you have Chinch Bugs, take an empty coffee can and remove the bottom and top. Pour some water over the edge of the affected area to soften the ground, if necessary. The pests can usually be found on the edges of the affected area as they consume more and more nutrients from grass blades. Push the coffee can 4 inches or so into the soil and pour water until ¾ of the can are filled. Agitate or stir the water inside, refill as necessary. In several minutes Chinch Bugs will float to the surface (be careful not to mistake them for big-eyed bugs).
Identifying insect pests is half the battle when determining if a pest species is invading turf. Check out the Lawn KILLER BUG Chart to help identify Chinch Bugs as well as other potential invaders.
If you don’t currently have a Chinch Bug problem, try preventative measures by encouraging a healthy lawn with fertilization and irrigation. To view our full assortment of products, including Soil Amendments, Fertilizers and Insecticides, download our Product Catalog for more information.