How To Identify And Treat A Chinch Bug Infestation
Are you constantly watering, but your lawn isn’t greening up? Notice any brown patches on your typically green lawn? The culprit may be the grass sap sucking insect chinch bugs.
How do I know if I have chinch bugs?
There are a few methods to confirm if you have a chinch bug infestation:
- Lawn damage that shows up as irregular yellow patches during hot and dry periods.
- Using your hands, spread the grass and check the soil surface for tiny red nymphs or small black adult chinch bugs. The nymph is bright red with distinctive white bands across the back, while adult chinch bugs are black with a white spot on their back between their wing pads. Note that they may be hiding in the crevices of the soil as they do not like light.
- If the bugs are not visible, you can the following:
Should I be concerned?
Chinch bugs feed by sucking the sap from the crown and stems of the blades of grasses. They will attack many varieties of lawn grasses such as fescues, but they prefer bluegrass.
How can I get rid of chinch bugs?
How To Identify A Chinch Bug Infestation
Chinch bug infestations can be worsened if dry weather lingers for multiple weeks. Augustine lawns are even more at-risk for infestation during a drought, which increase risks for lawn death.
Like many other lawn pests, chinch bugs target unhealthy grass suffering from underlying concerns. This may include drought damage, insect damage, or the activity of other pests. In any case, it is important to keep a close eye on the pest populations in your lawn.
Truthfully, the best way to identify a chinch bug infestation in your lawn is with a float test.
Chemical Control Of Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are now a huge problem because they have developed a resistance to insecticides. In the past the only type of pesticides that where available where contact insecticides usually pyrethroides.
This class of insecticide kills the insects on contact but require multiple of applications to break the life cycle and kill the nymphs and adults because most cannot kill the egg the insect hatch shortly after a chemical application but the insecticide is no longer there. I you just made one application or had a pest control company make only one spray chance are you sprayed but you did not achieve control.
I our business we use exclusively systemic insecticides for our lawn care program.
Most will disagree with this practice but when you manage hundreds of thousands of square feet of lawn all in different parts of a city you dont have the time nor the luxury to wait until the customer calls you to inspect and to re-spray there lawn. Customers pay for control not sprays and call backs destroy profits and the confidence your customer has in you.
Unless you are an onsite technician or a golf course superintendent you will not be there everyday to inspect that lawn for the first sign of trouble. Therefore you cannot expect what you do not inspect.
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Products Needed For Step 1b
Prepare Your Insecticide
If you choose to use a liquid insecticide, you will need to mix it with water in a sprayer before applying. Read the product label to determine your product to water ratio and shake the sprayer thoroughly to combine.
If you are using a granular insecticide, read the product label to determine the setting needed for your granule spreader.
S To Control Chinch Bugs Florida
2 Steps To Control Chinch Bugs Florida first is to correctly identify you have chinch bugs and second is to select the right insecticide to control it.
If you have a St Augustine lawn in Florida you will get chinch bug its not a mater of if but how often.
The southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis its scientific name is a common insect pest of St. Augustinegrass.
This tiny pest is responsible for millions of dollars in lawn damage per year, as homeowners and commercial property managers seek to control chinch bug outbreaks by applying insecticides or replacing damaged grass.Southern chinch bug was first found in the United States in Orange County, NC in 1783 and ever since then chinch bug has become a notorious pest throughout the southern United States.
The southern chinch bug seams to have an affinity for St. Augustine grass and is the second most expensive plant feeding pest in Florida.
Southern chinch bug thrives in the warm wet summer months and infestations peak during early July. The southern chinch bug will sometimes overwinter in a temporary dormant state in northern Florida,
The southern chinch bug usually stays active during the winter sheltered around the roots and base of St. Augustinegrass. The southern chinch bug does not need to leave its feeding ground thus the spring infestations often begin where the pest injury stopped the preceding season.
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Remove Spider Hiding Spots
Spiders are drawn to dark, secluded spots in your yard or garden that they can hide out in undisturbed. Removing these spots helps to reduce the places that they can live and breed in.
Method: To get rid of spiders and prevent them from moving back in, eliminate any places like this in your yard. This includes removing stacked flower pots, bricks, woodpiles, rock piles, brush piles, and compost heaps. Make sure to wear gloves and protective clothing when carrying this out to reduce the chance of being bitten.
What Chinch Bugs Look Like
Chinch bugs are easy to recognize but hard to see.
- Adults are about inch long with black bodies and white wings folded across their backs.
- Nymphs start out yellow, then turn red as they grow, eventually becoming black as they reach maturity.
- Chinch bugs mature in about 4 to 6 weeks.
- Telltale white stripe across their bodies.
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Chinch Bug Life Cycle
The chinch bug 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. Theyre 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.
The Lifecycle Of A Southern Chinch Bug
Female chinch bugs lay their eggs in the upper organic layers of soil. After about four weeks, eggs hatch into nymph chinch bugs, usually around early July. These pests will start consuming grass roots right away, covering your entire lawn in a matter of weeks.
Nymph chinch bugs will molt several more times before becoming adults at the end of the season. Unlike nymphs, adult bugs consume the juices of grass blades, spreading damages far and wide. There can be up to four generations of chinch bug per year, depending on weather and breeding conditions.
As the weather cools, chinch bugs nestle into the upper thatch of your lawn, and overwinter until temperatures rise to an average of 70 degrees.
Scientists believe that the southern chinch bug can live up to one month, which is plenty of time to kick of an infestation. Learning how to identifying a chinch bug infestation can help you stop damages before they grow out of control.
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Make Sure Your Soil Has Enough Moisture
Since chinch bugs love to hang around dry soil, one of the first things you need to do to eradicate them is to keep your soil moist, especially during the chinch bug season.
Make it a habit to keep your lawn well-watered during the summer, since this is the period when the chinch bugs are likely to attack.
Another reason why you should water your lawn properly is that the water encourages the growth of. Proper watering encourages the growth of Beauvaria bassiana, which is a fungus that attacks and kills chinch bugs.
Chinch Bug Treatment Guide
Chinch bugs are small pests that can damage your lawn, leaving patches of dry, dead grass throughout your turf.
If you have chinch bugs, read the rest of this guide to learn how to get rid of these grass-destroying critters.
Not sure if you have chinch bugs? Read our guide on what chinch bugs look like for more information.
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Description And Development Of The Chinch Bug
Chinch bugs lay their eggs and hatch in as little as one week during the summer. First they appear as bright orange in the Nymph stage, turning dark red as they begin to mature. When fully matured reaching the adult stage they are one fifth of an inch in length, black with white wings on their back. During this stage with no chinch bug, insect control they will do the most damage, and can fly to other locations in the lawn.
The Life Cycle Of The Southern Chinch Bug
An adult female chinch bug can deposit over 250 eggs on average in her lifecycle, she may lay as little as 4 eggs per day, but she will oviposit for many continuous weeks.
Female chinch bugs deposit there eggs in St. Augustine grass close to where the plant contacts the dirt.
During the summer months the eggs will hatch in 6 to 13 days, with the average period of incubation being 11 days. This process may last a month or more during the winter months.
The newly emerged southern chinch bug nymphs resemble smaller, wingless adults. In the first nymphal instar is yellow. The color changes to red with a pale white band across the abdomen and finally to black with a similar white band as the insect progresses through the five nymphal instars that the chinch bug goes through.
The adult southern chinch bug has a black body the wings are white with a black spot on the margins of the forewings.
There are two forms of southern chinch bug the long-winged form and the short-winged form.
The length of the adult chinch bug life span differ significantly with averages ranging from 10 to 70 days.
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What Does A Chinch Bug Look Like
The adult chinch bug is half an inch long. They are light-colored and have a black triangle in the middle along their shoulder . They also have crossed forewings with white markings.
The immature or newly-hatched chinch bugs are relatively smaller with no wings. They have red and white bands on their back. As the nymph goes through the developmental phase, the colors of the bands change to red, then brown, and then entirely black.
The entire chinch bug life cycle is three to four weeks long.
Adult chinch bugs come out from their winter hibernation phase around spring. When the air temperature reaches 70Â°F, they tend to mate.
Both adult and nymph chinch bugs will continue to eat grasses until fall arrives. This is when the adults hibernate by burrowing into plant debris.
How To Get Rid Of Chinch Bugs Organically
Organic remedies for lawns and gardens are safe, proven, and effective. We have researched several products that help deal with chinch bugs organically, and these are listed below:
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What If Theyre In My House
Chinch bugs dont really infest the house unless theyre just stray and wandering around.
Typically, they can be tracked into the home if you have pets or kids walking on the lawn and then carrying them into your house. They wont naturally go into your home and infect it for no reason.
Theres no lawn there, and theres no thatch. Even if you have a ton of indoor plants, as long as theyre 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.
Theyre likely just lost souls that someone found their way right into your home. Just eliminate them and be sure youre 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.
Products Needed For Step 1c
Apply Your Insecticide
Apply your insecticide across your entire lawn. If using a liquid insecticide, broadcast spray all of your lawn turf, starting from the edges of your lawn and working your way in.
If using a granular insecticide, walk the entirety of your turf with your spreader. Be sure to double back to your starting point to make sure you treat all grass.
You may need to water your granular insecticide after application. Read the label of your insecticide to determine if water is needed.
Watch the video below for more information on using insecticide on chinch bugs.
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Prevention With Healthy Lawn Care Practices
A healthy lawn will withstand some chinch bugs feeding. Healthy lawn care practices such as aerating, proper fertilizing, mowing high, de-thatching and overseeding with a mix of grasses will help you maintain a vigorous lawn. Fescues or perennial ryegrass , are more resistant to chinch bugs damage. The most resistant are the perennial rye grass varieties Repel and Citation II. The endophyte fungus is gradually lost, hence the seed should be sown within 9 months of the test date on the package. Throughout the dry spells, water deeply 1 once per week to avoid the dry conditions which chinch bugs prefer. Water when the risk of evaporation is lowest early morning is best. Place a tuna can under your sprinkler. Time how long it takes to fill it. Then you will know how long it takes your sprinkler to distribute 1 inch of water over your lawn. This will help conserve water and not drown your lawn.
Taking Good Care Of Your Lawn
Before you treat your lawn, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success and discourage the bugs from coming back. Mow the grass to the maximum height recommended for its variety, but avoid mowing more than one-third of the grass height at a time.
The chinch bug is know to live in the thatch, which takes up about ¾ of an inch, builds up over time and is the layer of dead grass clippings that builds up on the soil. Remove thatch thats built up to more than 1/2 inch deep using a thatch rake. If your thatch isnt this thick, aerate the soil with a manual or automated aerator or by using spiked lawn aerating shoes. These tolls will easily get rid of the thatched keep the cinch bugs out.
After youve treated your lawn, use lawn care resources such as applying compost, aged manure or other organic matter to improve the soil conditions. Use a slow-release fertilizer to further strengthen your grass. Avoid over-fertilizing, especially with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. This can leave your grass soft and more vulnerable to insect attacks.
Mow often to keep grass clippings short so theyre less likely to build up. When the weathers hot, keep your lawn well watered but dont overwater. Water during the cooler times of the day, such as early morning or towards evening to avoid burning the grass. In the fall, aerate and fertilize the lawn again.
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Chinch Bug Damage Damage Identification
A lawn infested with southern chinch bug will display discolored patches which are usually in a circular in pattern this is most often confused with brown patch fungus.
The injury typically will occur first in areas the are water stressed, along the edges of the lawn or grass growing in full sunlight.
In infested lawn southern chich bugs will distribute vertically from the turf thatch down into the upper organic layer of soil. When Southern chinch bug infetations are high, the chinch bugs can be seen running over the grass blades.
Southern chinch bug mainly feed in the area of the plant between the turf thatch and the organic soil level.
Large numbers of chinch bug nymphs and adults will gather at the base of one plant, as they feed, chinch bugs will drain the sap from the grass until it withers, turning from a healthy green color to a brown-yellow color, and finally dies Once the feeding group has killed one section of grass stolons, they move as a unit to the next adjacent stolon, continuing their destruction of the lawn.