Friday, July 10, 2009

Chinch bugs...does your lawn appear to be dying?

Chinch bugs seem to be a hot topic lately and no wonder- it feels like a blast furnace when you walk outside these days. Chinch bugs love hot, dry weather, so the conditions are perfect for them.

I'm not the only one getting reports about chinch bugs, KEYE was out here yesterday to do a story about chinch bugs because they have been getting calls as well.

Chinch bugs are small black bugs with white wings. Immatures, or nymphs, are a pinkish-peach color with a light band across their back. These insects cause irregular brown patches to appear in turf. The dead or stunted grass is usually surrounded by grass that is yellowing. You can look in the yellowing turf area for the actual chinch bugs to confirm that you have them (because there are other things that cause your lawn to have patchy brown spots, but those are for other blog posts). Often, chinch bug damage pops up next to sidewalks and driveways.

To avoid getting chinch bugs you can:

  1. Properly water your lawn.
  2. Properly fertilize your lawn.
  3. Avoid having an excessive thatch layer. If the thatch layer is thick, dethatch your lawn.
  4. If your soil is compacted, aerate your lawn and top dress it with compost.
  5. Select a chinch bug resistant variety of grass.
If you have chinch bugs already in your turf you can:
  1. Conserve beneficial bugs that eat chinch bugs by using chemicals only when needed and then selecting chemicals that are less- toxic.
  2. Choose an insecticide labeled for turf & chinch bugs.
  3. Read & follow all directions on the product label.
  4. If only one area of the turf is damaged, then spot treat that area instead of treating the entire lawn.