Best Treatment for Chinch Bugs

The best treatment for chinch bugs include removing the thatch layer, insecticidal soap, or insecticides.

Description of Chinch Bugs

Adult chinch bugs are so small (1/5 inch) and inconspicuous that they can destroy a lawn right under your eyes. They have black bodies and white wings. There is a distinctive triangular marking on each of the wings.

Young chinch bugs are similar in shape to the adult, but are red with white stripes on their back.

These pests thrive in hot, dry weather, becoming active when temperatures are in the high 70's. They occur throughout the country, but are the worst in the Midwest, East, and South. They particularly enjoy St. Augustine grass. In the Northeast, they prefer Kentucky Bluegrass and red fescue.

Symptoms of Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs do their worst damage in the heat of the summer---in August and early September. They suck the juices out of the stems, crowns, and blades of grass, leaving large, circular patches of yellow to brown damaged turf.

These pests are generally the most common in the sunny parts of the lawn. The affected patches often first appear near sidewalks and streets. They eventually spread outward into the rest of the lawn. The yellowish spots show the greatest damage at the center, where the chinch bugs congregate.

Identification of Chinch Bugs

Get on your hands and knees and examine individual blades of grass that have turned yellow in distinct circular patches. Chinch bugs are about the size of a ladybug.

Water Trap Diagnosis - Push a bottomless coffee can about 2 inches deep in to the soil where the grass is beginning to turn yellow. Fill the can with warm water. The chinch bugs will float to the top in 10 minutes or so. Repeat this test several times in different areas of your lawn. If you estimate (based on the average results of your tests) that there are 15 to 20 chinch bugs, treatment is needed.

Solution to Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs thrive in conditions of excess thatch, too little water, and too much or too little nitrogen. Therefore, the best treatment for chinch bugs includes the following:

  1. Remove Thatch Layer. Eliminating thatch will improve drainage and fertilizer penetration into the soil. It will also expose chinch bugs to their bird and insect predators.
  2. Insecticidal Soap. It is commonly mixed with water and poured on the lawn where pest problems are suspected. Such a soaking irritates any pest insects near the soil surface, driving them upwards into the grass blades to escape the moisture and dry off.

    At the soil surface, chinch bugs are vulnerable to attacks by predator birds or a landscaper's rake.

    The major ingredients in commercial insecticidal soap are fatty-acid salts. Because these salts are nontoxic, they are safe for use on lawns.

  3. Insecticides. Garden centers sell insect controls under different brand names. The most common ingredients include propoxar, isophenphos, diazinon, chloropyrifos, or NPD. Follow the label carefully.

If you want to make sure you are getting the best treatment for chinch bugs, have a local lawn treatment company handle it. I like how you can sign up online for a free estimate.



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