Adult Chinch Bugs usually appear in your lawn in March, but their life cycle in the turf begins long before that as larvae. They have black bodies and legs, white wings with a black triangular spot on each wing. Also known as Blissus leucopterus leucopterus, and B. insularis, Lygaeidae, a Chinch Bug is a beetle that the size of a grain of rice, and the larvae can be as small as the head of a pin. But don’t let their small size fool you, the power of a Chinch Bug infestation to destroy your lawn should not be underestimated, especially if your grass is currently experiencing a drought or consistently dry conditions year round. These pests live deep in the thatch throughout the fall and winter and steadily eat away the root system of your grass and other plants.
But it gets worse. Much worse.
Chinch Bugs don’t just eat your grass, they actually inject poison into the plant as they eat, causing your grass to turn yellow and die in large patches. These patches are usually circular, with the center looking much worse than the outer perimeter.
You can test your lawn for Cinch Bugs by simply going to the center of one of the circular yellow patches of grass and look for small red and black beetles, or their red larvae. If you need another confirmation, take a large aluminum can and cut off both ends. Push one end of the can down into the turf, and then fill the can with water. In around 15 minutes the water will kill any Chinch bugs inside and they will float to the surface where you can see them clearly.
How to get rid of Chinch Bugs:
-Water your lawn regularly. Chinch Bugs thrive in dry, sunny lawns, or drought conditions, so regular watering can greatly reduce your Chinch Bug infestation.
-Encourage your lawn to develop a deep root system by applying appropriate doses of fertilizer, and watering regularly (do not overwater, this can actually produce a shallow root system).
-Do not cut your grass too low. Taller blades of grass produce deeper roots.
-Have a lawn care company apply the proper pesticedes. It is crucial that you have a professional evaluate your lawn and determine what plan of attack is best.
The disadvantage of chemical controls is that they can be a danger to pets, humans, other bugs, birds, and the environment in general. Ask your lawn care company if they can choose organic, non-toxic controls instead of chemicals. Some lawn care companies will broadly apply harmful pesticides without properly informing you of the risks to your family, pets, and surrounding wildlife.