The Summer Enemy… Chinch Bugs
When we think of pests eating and killing our lawns, the first thing that comes to mind is grubs… but there is another lawn pest that is causing terrible damage to lawns and with far less notoriety. This guy is called the “Chinch Bug”.
Chinch Bugs primarily cause damage in July and August (right around now). They strike in the summer when the lawn gets a little dry and the average temperatures start to move up. The chinch bug causes damage by injecting a toxin into your grass blades while feeding which causes the grass blade to wither and die. Chinch bugs avoid shady and moist areas and instead prefer sunny and dry areas of the lawn.
Chinch Bugs are tiny. When I first started in the lawn care industry as a lawn technician I was surprised to see how small a chinch bug really is. You could easily fit a dozen or more full grown chinch bugs on the surface of your thumb nail. Chinch bugs are so small that picking them up is a trick in and of itself! So don’t necessarily count them out as the cause of lawn damage if you can’t see them right away. Even when closely examining the ground on your hands and knees its common to have difficulty seeing them. They hide well by blending in with the thatch.
What To Look For?
Patches of grass mysteriously starting to brown and look sickly. You won’t find these damaged areas in shaded spots as chinch bugs prefer full sun. Unfortunately, in a dry pale yard that isn’t irrigated regularly, you may not even notice the damage as drought conditions often mask the damage. If you do see strange damage start to appear, call our office right away so that we can have one of our trained technicians diagnose your problem before it gets out of hand.
What To Do?
Once you have chinch bugs infesting your lawn, the best thing to do is to have a surface insecticide put down to remove these insects before they can continue to do more severe damage. Once you’ve decreased the population, the best way to keep chinch bugs out is to regularly irrigate your lawn. A well irrigated lawn is less attractive to a chinch bug, and chinch bugs that do find their way into your lawn won’t spread as readily and cause far less damage.
Other info on Chinch Bugs:
This MSU Extension article shows some good pictures of chinch bug damage.
This Penn State University article talks more in depth about the anatomy of chinch bugs
As always thanks for reading!