This adaptable little creature can be quite a devastation to your turfgrasses if you do not recognize and remove immediately. The chinch bug is most notorious in the South where they attack St. Augustine grass on a regular basis, but many other grasses are a target for these pests. In cooler regions the hairy chinch bug and the common chinch bug will wage war on perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass and others. However, it is easier to control them in these southern areas because they are regulated by naturally occurring fungal pathogens which kills the chinch bugs as well as their eggs.
The chinch bug has no guidelines as to when it will take comfort in your turf. The best time to find the chinch bugs looming in your yard is when the weather is hot and dry. You will start to see irregular patches of dead or dying turfgrass surrounded by a yellowish circle of wilted grass. It is best to confirm an infestation by looking for the bugs themselves as it is easy to confuse chinch bug damage with drought or disease. Chinch bugs are easily ID’d once found – they are about 1/8 to 1/6 of an inch long, have oval-shaped bodies and are black with white wings. Each wing is a triangular shape that will give an adult a distinctive hourglass mark. The eggs will molt from yellow to orange to brown before becoming black-bodied adults.
Testing for chinch bugs –
There is a common coffee method that can be used – remove both ends of the can and insert one end of the can into the turf about 2-3 inches while leaving about 6 inches of the can above ground. Fill the can with water and wait 5 minutes. If you have chinch bugs lingering in your turf they will float to the surface. If you see 5 or more – you have reached the threshold and need to look for ways to control them.
Now that you have accurately determined you have chinch bugs there are a few ways to rid your turf of them.
Chinch bugs can often be controlled with new turf management practices. First things first, keep thatch to a minimum. Chinch bugs love thatch because it provides protection for them, allowing them to live just above the soil where it is less likely they will catch disease (smart little creature!). Fertilizer is key in this process. Too much fertilizer will increase thatch as well as producing an abundance of nitrogen which is very appealing to the chinch bug. PRO tip! Use a slow-releasing fertilizer.
As always, we are the Pros and are happy to help. Our team of trained specialists will be able to come out asses your turf and provide a fully customizable treatment plan to help you regain your beautiful yard!
If you have attempted cultural control with no success or are looking for quicker results, there are a few chemicals that will benefit your efforts. Our recommendations are Talstar, DeltaGard, Merit, Scimitar, Astro or Dylox. If your turf is experiencing heavy thatch, you will want to utilize a surfactant to increase the efficacy of the chemicals.