What are Southern Chinch Bugs?

Below is the little bug that causes the many of the issues we see in St. Augustine lawns.

Description of the Damage:

Initially, the base of the oldest grass blades turns yellow while everything else is green. Peel the blade back and chinch bugs will be at the base of the plant. The affected patch expands slowly, yellows, and then dies. It is usually circular in shape. Turf areas that are under stress caused by dry conditions may be damaged much faster.

Chinch Bug description and season:

Immatures (nymphs) and adults feed on fluids at plant base in the thatch layer. Adults are 1/8 to 1/10 of an inch long, have a black body with shiny white wings folded on the back with a triangular-shaped black marking. Young nymphs are reddish-orange with a white band across the back and will darken in color as they mature.  Chinch Bug season is from April to October

Integrated Pest Control:

Natural or “Cultural” control includes maintaining a healthy turf.  Think of it this way, if you are not eating well and your body is not getting the proper liquids and nutrients, you are more susceptible to getting sick and the same is true for lawn and plants. Try avoiding too much or too little water and avoid quick release nitrogen fertilizers as this develops a thick thatch; (use slow release nitrogen).  Another important item is the mowing height at 3.5 – 4 inches and “sharp” mowing blades.  Beneficial insects like ear wigs, big-eyed bugs, parasitic wasps and spiders feed on chinch bugs. Chemical control options include pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and carbamates.  Try avoiding “All In One” chemicals since they can eliminate chinch bug’s natural enemies.  If the problem is not throughout lawn, treat affected area and six foot buffer area.  Pest control companies have more effective materials for control and often rotate chemicals to prevent tolerance.

Southern chinch bug

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