Texas A&M AgriLife Extension logo

logo


CHINCH BUGS

With the hot days of summer, you should be on the lookout for chinch bugs in your lawn, especially in St Augustinegrass. These pests cause extensive damage very quickly, including killing St Augustine turf, during the hot days of July, August and well into September. Chinch bugs like hot, dry, sunny lawns; hence, shady lawns are not usually infested. Lawns suffering from chinch bug infestation show large patches of irregular, yellowish, stunted, wilted grass. Chinch bugs suck the sap from grass blades, at the same time injuring the grass, causing it to wither and die, leaving brown areas of turf.

Unlike turf killed by grub worms, grass killed by chinch bugs remains attached to its roots. To check for chinch bugs, push a bottomless can into the ground near the edge of a dead patch of lawn and fill it with water. If chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface within a few minutes. Look for fast moving bugs approximately 3/16 to 1/8 inch in length with black bodies and white wings. Younger, smaller nymphs may be orange-pink in color with a white band across their back. Water the lawn thoroughly to bring the bugs to the surface before applying insecticide according to the product directions.

Tom Russell, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service


IDENTIFYING CHINCH BUGS IN YOUR LAWN

During the hot days of July, August and September you should be on the lookout for chinch bugs in your lawn, especially in St Augustine grass. In southern lawns, they can produce three generations per year.

These pests cause extensive damage quickly and can severely injure St Augustine lawns in a few days. The insects suck juices from the grass blades and at the same time inject a poison that causes the grass to wither and die. Chinch bugs like hot, dry lawns and areas of grass near concrete and asphalt. The problem is usually less severe in shady lawns. Lawns suffering from a chinch bug infestation show patches of yellowish turf later turning to brown. Unlike grass killed by grub worms, grass killed by chinch bugs remains attached to its roots.

To check for chinch bugs, cut both ends from a vegetable can. Push the can into the soil in healthy grass near the edge of a dead patch of lawn and fill it with water. Check in several locations. If chinch bugs are present they usually float to the surface in a few minutes. Look for bugs about 1/8 inch long with black bodies and white forewings with a black triangular spot near the margins. Their legs are reddish brown. Another method of checking for chinch bugs is to carefully examine the grass at the edge of damaged areas looking carefully for the insects on blades of grass.

Before applying an insecticide, water your lawn thoroughly to bring the chinch bugs to the surface so they will be exposed to the insecticide.

Staci Smith, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service


Turfgrass Index
Gardening Tips For Northeast Texas Index