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:
- Cut the bottom of a metal soup can and push it down two inches deep into the surface of your lawn.
- Fill the can with soapy water.
- Wait approximately five minutes. If you have chinch bugs, they will float to the top of the can.
- Perform steps 1-3 in several areas of the lawn, including near edging. If there are five or more chinch bugs per can, the infestation is serious enough that this may incur irreparable damage to your lawn.
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.
Turf that is in poor condition or stressed by hot, dry weather (like we are experiencing in our area) may not tolerate even the smallest infestation. The damage caused by chinch bugs appears quickly in hot weather. With most of the damage appearing in open, sunny areas, this is often mistaken for drought damage.
Lawn damage shows up as irregular yellow patches, which begin showing after 10 consecutive days of dry and hot temperatures. If untreated, overtime the grass may turn brown and die. In cases of severe infestation, entire lawns can be decimated.
How can I get rid of chinch bugs?
Chinch bugs like poorly tended lawns, especially those with a lack of moisture. Maintaining your lawn properly will discourage infestations and improve tolerance to damage. Some helpful practices include the following:
- Spray your lawn with an insecticide that contains Pyrethrin such as Bug B Gone.
- Water your lawn thoroughly during hot periods. Ideally, we recommend watering in the evening so your lawn will remain wet overnight, thus allowing your lawn to absorb as much water as possible. We always advice people to use a sprinkle head or sprinkler system and keep it running for approximately 15-20 mins. For an established lawn, we typically recommend watering every 2-3 days and more frequently during times of drought.
If you have any follow up questions please do not hesitate to ask!