Spring Pests: The Chinch Bug

Spring is here, an exciting time of year when the clocks go forward, sunshine and higher temperatures are more consistent. But we aren’t the only ones excited about spring. Turf pests tend to emerge when temperatures begin to rise consistently.

Today we are going to spotlight the Chinch Bug. This benevolent pest loves to eat St. Augustine grass the most. They have piercing-sucking mouth parts that act like a straw to suck up plant fluids from the crowns, stems, and stolon. Their saliva causes yellowing, browning, and death to the turf. They feed year-round but are most active in the spring and summer when new generations emerge with more dry and sunny weather.

As an adult, they are around ¼ inch long with black and white patches on the wings with a black body. The younger generation (nymphs) are smaller and are reddish brown in color with a white band across the back. The adults are very noticeable in size, so if you suspect chinch bugs are causing damage, part the grass where damage is present and wait for them to crawl past. Taking a look is a good place to start. An alternative way is called the coffee can method. This is where you hollow out a coffee can, stick in the infested area and fill with water until the bugs start to float to the top, this is a great method to identify the issue. On the other hand, an infestation would be very noticeable because it will be seen on sidewalks and driveways where drought stress can occur quickly.

Chinch bugs prefer St. Augustine but will eat any type of turf in the right conditions. Conditions being drought-stressed, sunny, and dry. That being said there are varieties like ‘Bitterblue’, ‘Floratine’, and ‘Seville’ that are somewhat resistant to damage.
Natural predators to the chinch bug, are the big-eyed bug, earwigs, and anthocorids as well as a small parasitic wasp that attacks the eggs. Anthocorids and the big-eyed bug look rather similar to the chinch bug in the adult stage, so be sure to properly identify the bugs before moving on to chemical treatments. You do not want to kill beneficial insects because they are present to help.

Control with pesticides is a viable option for control of chinch bugs. Finding a pesticide that the label lists chinch bugs is the first step, most of these products will be granular and require a broadcast application then watering in. Proper application should control the chinch bugs within 8 to 10 weeks.

Prevention: a great way to prevent chinch bugs is to maintain a healthy stand of turf by fertilizing at proper times, using proper mowing practices, watering your lawn as needed, and minimizing thatch accumulation.


Posted: March 13, 2024

Category: Horticulture, Turf
Tags: Agriculture, Bad Bugs In The Landscape, Bugs, Chinch Bugs, Commercial Horticulture, FFL, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Horticulture, Plants

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories