James Miltner, a haybale producer from Hillsborough County, identified spots in their farm without pastures. This was affecting forage growth and providing economic losses to the farmer. Mr. Milner contacted UF/IFAS Assistant Professor Dr. Brent Seller to identify the issues on his land.
In this photo released from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, entomologist Eileen Buss holds a vial of Southern chinch bug specimens in her laboratory on the UF main campus in Gainesville – Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008. Buss coauthored a study suggesting homeowners who use excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer on their St. Augustine grass lawns may encourage the insect, a major pest.
After a talk with the farmer, Dr. Seller and I went to the field to take a look. Dr. Seller surveyed at the spots, which sought to be due to chinch bugs. In the field Dr. Seller observed at the Bahiagrass stems and the soil. He saw a small bug with small wings and dark color, and confirmed the presence of chinch bugs on the farm. We visited other areas, and they had the same issue.
In pastures chinch bugs are usually underneath the thatch, which protects them from insecticide contact. If insecticides, such as Mustang, Sevin, Tracer, and others, are applied to control other insect pests, some suppression of the chinch bug population occurs. However, the effectiveness of the chemical control is highly variable (Vendramini, 2017).
Here are important management practices to follow if you have chinch bugs on your farm (Vendramini, 2017).
– In pastures with a history of chinch bug infestation, burn off the dense thatch of forage in the spring.
– Graze or harvest the grass in the summer to avoid excessive herbage accumulation.
– Start the limpograss stockpiling period after August.
– Spraying for other insects may provide partial control of chinch bugs.
Table 1. Target stubble height for different forage species in South Florida.