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Chinch Bugs Lawn | How to Stop Chinch Destroying Your Lawn

Chinch Bugs Lawn. If your beautiful lawn suddenly starts to appear discolored and dry or even drought stricken in places despite regular watering then the chances are that you might have a chinch bug infestation or “chinch bugs lawn” as the problem is sometimes referred to as.

Damage to lawns caused by chinch bugs can become quite extensive if not dealt with quickly. The good news is that if you take the right measures you can get rid of chinch bugs without having to use expensive pest control services and employing an effective maintenance regime can usually prevent the bugs reappearing.

What is a chinch bug?

Chinch bugs or Blissus leucopterusare, are very small, soft-bodied insects that feed on grasses, weeds, and other plants. They are most often found in late summer and early fall. Chinch bugs can be mistaken for aphids or spider mites, but they have two pairs of wings instead of four. The first pair of wings is used to fly short distances, while the second pair of wings allows them to jump long distances.

Chinch bugs are usually less than 1/4 inch long, with brownish-red bodies covered with hairs. Their antennae are black and their legs are yellow.

There are several different Chinch bug species, the following are the most common. The common chinch bug may be found from Connecticut westward to Ohio and south as far as mid-Texas and across to mid-Georgia. The hairy chinch bug cohabits portions of the common chinch bug’s northern territory but is also found across the northeastern states. The southern chinch bug is the most common kind found in the southeast. The western chinch bug may be found in states ranging from Oklahoma and Texas to California.

Hairy chinch bugs look like tiny wasps because of their hairy appearance. They also resemble ladybugs and lacewings.

Chinch bugs lay eggs in clusters on leaves, stems, and flowers. These eggs hatch into larvae that eat the plant tissue around them until it is destroyed. When the larvae reach maturity, they drop off the host plant and pupate underground. After about 10 days, adults emerge from the soil as winged chinches.

How do I know if my lawn has chinch bugs?

DiIf you find chinch bugs on your lawn, you may want to take some action before the damage becomes too severe. First, check your lawn carefully for signs of infestation. You should see small white spots on the undersides of leaves.

Damage caused by chinch bugs might resemble drought stress, which can make it difficult to detect. The presence of chinch bugs should raise a red flag on your lawn if you’ve been watering it regularly but are still seeing patches of dry grass.

An indication that you’re dealing with chinch bug damage is yellow patches of grass that become brown and die in sunny locations during hot weather. We will look at the ways to get rid of this grass-killing beetle and prevent it from returning to your lawn in the long term below.

detecting chinch bugs infestations

To verify whether or not any damage you detect has been caused by Chinch bugs is best discovered by actually carefully inspecting the area.  To do this you will have to lay down on the grass, carefully separate the blades of grass from each other using your fingers and inspecting. Usually it’s possible to notice the small bugs moving about if you look closely enough. Although, with adult chinch bugs being less than 1/4 inch long, you may need to use a magnifying glass. 

Using a Tin Can To Detect Chinch Bugs Lawn

A tin can or ‘float test’ can also be used to find chinch bugs.

1. Grab a metal cylinder that is accessible from both ends or that has had both ends cut. 

2. Select a spot of grass and insert the metal cylinder 3 inches into the ground.

3. Fill the submerged cylinder with water 3/4 of the way to the top and then to maintain the level keep adding water for around 10 minutes.

4. Stir up or agitate the submerged turf.

Quick Check List for Detecting Chinch Bugs

Look for the telltale signs to see if you have chinch bugs. You may notice:

• Small white spots or yellow spots on your lawn

• Lawns that appear dry and dead

• Spots where the grass seems to be eaten away

• Brown patches on the grass

• Stems that seem to be broken at the bottom

• Leaves that turn yellow or brown

• Dead seedlings

What time of year do chinch bugs damage lawns?

Chinch bugs emerge from winter hibernation in warm weather. Their numbers increase rapidly in the warmer months.The peak months for chinch bugs to cause problems in lawns are June through September. This is when the bugs are reproducing and feeding on vegetation.

In cooler climates, chinch bugs tend to move indoors to overwinter as adults. In warmer regions, however, they remain active throughout the winter.

How do chinch bugs reproduce?

Chinch bugs are polyphagous so they can survive on a wide variety of foods.

They usually breed in warm, moist environments such as gardens, flower beds, and compost piles. They prefer to live near human dwellings because these areas provide plenty of food and shelter.

During the spring and summer seasons, chinch bugs lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, stems, and sometimes flowers. These eggs hatch within two weeks. After hatching, the nymphs begin eating the plant material. They continue to eat until they reach maturity. At this point, they drop off the plant and crawl into nearby soil to pupate.

When the chinch bugs hatch from eggs, they don’t have wings. After they develop wings, they become adults. Adults can be identified by the presence of wings.

Types of Damage

chinch-bugs-lawn-damage looks like

When chinch bugs emerge from the soil, they go back to living on vegetation. This process repeats itself every summer. As a result, chinch bugs leave behind holes in the turf which allow moisture and air to enter the grass. The holes also make it easier for diseases to spread.

Chinch bugs are known to eat some types of grasses and weeds. However, they aren’t always destructive pests. Some species help control certain weeds while others help protect the turf.

Some people think that chinch bugs cause damage only during the summer months. But, they can be found all year round.

How do chinch bugs damage grass?

Chinch bugs eat grass blades, feeding on the roots of grasses. Then inject the grass blades with a poison, chinch bug saliva, causing plant mortality.

The poisonous impact of a heavy infestation of lawn pests may result in considerable plant death in heavily infected areas. 

Chinch bugs feed on grasses and weeds. They can cause serious damage to turfgrass if left untreated. They may also be seen on ornamental plants.

Chinch bugs can also destroy seeds and young plants. When they attack seedlings, they chew on the stem and suck sap from the plant. This makes the plant weaker and more susceptible to disease.

How to Get Rid of Chinch Bugs

If you discover that damage to your lawns is caused buy Chinch all is not lost. There are several ways in which to can deal with the problem.

Don’t Mow Your Lawn 

If you discover Mowing a chinch bug-infested lawn is one of the most effective methods to enable the bugs to spread as quickly as possible! You don’t want that, therefore this is one of the few situations when we advocate missing a mowing. Remember, this is only temporary until you can have an application in place; after that, it’ll be back to mowing schedule!

Natural Predators to Chinch Bugs

When your lawn is overrun by chinch bugs, it’s time to take action. Natural predator of chinch bug insects will help limit the damage. You can use natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, and praying mantis. parasitic wasps or predatory beetles also attack the chinch bugs.

Using Pesticide to Eliminate Chinch Bugs

pesticide to get rid of chinch bugs

You can also use pesticides to eliminate chinch bugs. Be sure to follow label directions carefully. If you spray too much pesticide, you could kill beneficial insects as well.

Pesticides work best when used at the beginning of the season. Once the chinch bugs start laying eggs, spraying won’t stop them from breeding.

There are several commercially formulated products available for use against chinches. However, there are no reports of successful field trials using any product. Predators appear to be more effective than fungicides.

Spot Treatments

If chinch bugs are only found in a few spots on your lawn, you can use spot treatments. Environmental pollution can be minimised with the use of spot treatments as you don’t need to spray large areas.

Treat the discoloured turf as well as any nearby affected areas. In order to assess if the infestation is under control, inspect the spot every 3 to 5 days for at least 2 weeks. Spot treatments aid in the prevention of environmental pollution. They also reduce insecticides’ influence on beneficial insects.

Lawn Maintenance to Prevent Chinch Bugs

One of the best ways to prevent having a problem with Chinch bugs is to have a lawn maintenance regime that reduces the possibility of the bugs gaining a foothold and thus ensuring healthy turf. Regular lawn maintenance helps prevent chinch bugs from becoming an issue. Mowing regularly keeps grass close together so that chinch bugs cannot get into the grass. Regular fertilization helps keep the grass healthy and green.

Use Resistant Turfgrasses

Hairy chinches attack lawns with 50% or more bluegrass. Reseeding with endophytic turf is an effective control method. See list of the best turf to lay to avoid chinch bug problems below.

Prevent Overfertilizing 

Overfertilizing is one way to encourage growth of weeds, which can help chinch bugs thrive. It’s important to control weeds so you don’t create conditions where chinch bugs will multiply.

Fertilizing should be done after mowing. A fertilizer containing nitrogen will encourage new growth and help maintain strong stems.

Make sure to remove dead grass and weeds before applying fertilizer. Fertilizer should never be applied directly to the ground. It must first be mixed into water and then sprayed onto the lawn.

Early Action

Chinch bug control should be started as soon as possible after the first signs of activity.

Reseed the spots left bare from chinch bug damage.

recovering from chinch bug infestation

After treating your lawn with a pesticide, reseed within 24 hours. Reseeding helps prevent future infestation.

The damage caused by chinch bugs typically necessitates the use of fresh loam when reseeding. The degree restoration that will be required will obviously be determined by how soon the problems are resolved. If you are restoring your lawn, make sure that you then treat it for chinch bugs, who would be attracted to the fresh grass.

Increased watering

Chinch bugs are attracted to stressed lawns and lawns that have been dethatched. Keeping the lawn well-watered and dethatching the grass will reduce the number of chinch bugs.

Increased watering, will delay the proliferation of chinch bugs and reduce damage. Chinch bugs prefer hot, dry weather. When the earth gets moist, they become dormant till it dries out. While it is difficult (and a poor idea) to keep your grass wet 24 hours a day, running an extra cycle throughout the day (for a few days) will help slow down chinch bugs when they are most active and prevent chinch bugs lawn.

Keeping Thatch to a Minimum

By reducing thatch you can lower the amount of chinch bugs and make other management approaches more effective. Thatch is a coating of decaying plant debris found between the green tops of grass plants and the soil underneath them. It serves as a safe haven for chinch bugs and chemically binds to many pesticides, making them less effective.

Mowing Your Lawn to the Right Height prevent Chinch Bugs

Mowing the lawn regularly keeps down the amount of weeds and grasses. Mowing should be done before the grass gets long enough to shade out sunlight. Mowing your existing lawn down to a few centimetres is important. It allows sunlight to reach the roots so the plants can absorb water and nutrients. Regular irrigation helps prevent the soil from becoming saturated.

Correct mowing techniques can aid in the reduction of thatch development. When soil bacteria are unable to decompose decaying plant matter as quickly as it is introduced, excess thatch accumulates. This can happen if the grass is cut seldom enough. When mowing, no more than 35 to 40% of the leaf blade should be removed at a time for maximum turfgrass health. This means that throughout the growth season, lawns should be mowed at least once a week.

How to Restore Your Lawn

Lawn restoration is done by following a series of steps. This includes testing your soil’s nutrients and weed control.

Ultimately, to aid in the restoration of your grass, you should reseed the injured area. This is significant since it is difficult for all of the injured grass to repair itself and sprout; also, this will make the current grass thicker, stronger, and healthier. Then you rake the whole thing together after applying a starting fertiliser to the fresh seedlings. It is crucial that you water your lawn every day during this stage since it is a critical phase of growth for your grass.

preventing chinch bugs returning

Mowing your existing lawn down to a few inches tall is important. It allows sunlight to reach the roots so the plants can absorb water and nutrients. Regular irrigation helps prevent the soil from becoming saturated.

Ten Most Resistant Varieties of Grass | Chinch Bugs Lawn

Of course one of the most effective way yo prevent Chinch bugs being a problem is to lay a variety of grass that is most resistant.  There are many varieties of chinch bugs. Some are more damaging than others. The problem is they have become adept at destroying almost all commercial varieties of grass. The list below provides the grasses that are most resistant but you would still need to practice good lawn care to keep the bugs at bay. 

Here are some of the best chinch bug resistant varieties:

1. Bermuda Grass – This type of grass is extremely hardy and will not succumb to chinch bugs. It’s also easy to maintain.

2. Zoysia Grass – This type of turfgrass has been bred to resist chinch bugs. It grows quickly and requires little maintenance.

3. St. Augustine Grass – This type of green grass is popular among homeowners. It’s hardy and pest-resistant.

4. Fescue Grass – This type of perennial grass is ideal for golf courses. It’s drought tolerant and won’t suffer from chinch bugs.

5. Ryegrass – This type of grass resists chinch bugs well. It’s easy to grow and doesn’t require much care.

6. Kentucky bluegrass – This variety of grass is a favorite among homeowners because it’s so easy to maintain. It’s also resistant to chinch bugs, mites, and aphids.

7. Perennial Ryegrasses – This type of grass grows quickly and is resistant to chinch bugs. Plus, it looks great!

8. Annual Ryegrass – When growing annual ryegrasses, watch out for chinch bugs. They’re attracted to the seeds.

9. Centipede Grass – This type of native grass is resistant to chinchbugs. It’s drought tolerant, low maintenance, and attractive.

10. Redtop – This variety of grass has been developed specifically for use as a ground cover. It’s resistant to chinch bugs but susceptible to slugs.

Chinch Bugs Lawn: Technical Information:

Determined As: Pest

Scientific Name: Blissus leucopterus

Common Name: chinch bug

Taxonomic Tree

Domain: Eukaryota

Kingdom: Metazoa

Phylum: Arthropoda

Subphylum: Uniramia

Class: Insecta

List of Symptoms/Signs of Chinch Bugs Lawn

Growing point / distortion         
Leaves / abnormal colours         
Leaves / abnormal forms         
Leaves / necrotic areas         
Leaves / wilting         
Leaves / yellowed or dead         
Roots / reduced root system         
Stems / stunting or rosetting         
Stems / wilt         
Whole plant / distortion; rosetting         
Whole plant / dwarfing         
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback 


Summary: Preventing Chinch Bugs Lawn

If you want your lawn to stay in the best condition possible then having the most resistant type of grass and regular lawn maintenance is crucial to preventing chinch bugs lawn. Good watering, proper fertilization and regular mowing all help.

If you do notice areas where chinch bugs have taken hold then early action at the first signs of activity is then needed to prevent the problem spreading. This involves introducing either natural predators or using biological spot treatments on the affected area.

Reseeding the damaged area with the most resistant grass