Photo: UF IFAS
The chinch bug is an insect pest that affects St. Augustine grass, which is primarily found in Southern states, including Florida. Since its first recorded appearance in 1783, the chinch bug has become well-known for causing infestations and aggravation for homeowners. According to research, this tiny 6-millimeter pest causes millions of dollars in damage per year.
Chinch bugs thrive during the warm, damp summer months, with infestations peaking in early July. However, in southern states, they remain active during winter months by staying close to the grassroots under the soil. While the most severe chinch bug damage occurs in Florida’s central and southern counties, Northeast Florida gets its share of damage.
The adult chinch bug has a black body measuring about 6 millimeters in length, with white wings and a black spot on the forewings. There are two types of chinch bugs: long-winged and short-winged. The long-winged chinch bug has wings that reach almost to the end of the abdomen, while the short-winged chinch bug has wings that extend about half the length of the abdomen. Adult chinch bugs have a lifespan of 49 days.
If you think your lawn may be under a chinch bug infestation, there are a few signs to look for. An infested lawn will have circular discolored patches. The damage occurs first in water-stressed areas along the edges of the lawn or where the grass is growing in full sunlight. St. Augustine grass cultivated on high, dry, sandy, or shell soil is especially vulnerable to southern chinch bug damage.
First, evaluate the chinch bug population throughout your turf grass. Brown and lighter grass areas are an indicator of an infestation. So try to gauge how big the problem is because this will help you and/or your Pest Control Expert determine the best course of treatment.
If the infestation is minor, it can be easily managed with store-bought treatments. However, if it’s more severe, integrated pest management is recommended. An integrated pest management program includes proper fertilization, irrigation, mowing, and pest control applications.
Some best practices for prevention include maintaining a grass height of 3-4 inches to ensure a strong root system. This increases the grass’ tolerance to chinch bug infestations. Mow your lawn — always with a sharpened blade — frequent enough that no more than half of the leaf blade is removed each time.
Be careful when applying large amounts of nitrogen fertilizers, which can cause grass to grow rapidly, making it easier for chinches to take over. To avoid damage, use water-soluble, time-release, or multiple-application fertilizer. Lastly, avoid over-watering, and irrigate only after wilting begins.
Trust in Trads
The good news about chinch bug infestations is Trad’s has the expert insight on how to protect your turf, and we’re always here to help. We offer Lawn Care programs to keep your lawn in top shape and Pest Control programs to keep chinch bugs managed. Our Lawn Care and Pest Control experts are highly trained and know how to proceed in unique conditions present in Northeast Florida. Our professionals work with you to create a user-friendly program that best suits your needs. Don’t waste time, chinch bugs might be moving into your lawn this summer, and they don’t like to leave. Call us today at (904) 733-7488 to set up your consultation! We’ll give them the boot.