In Texas, we either go big or go home and with that said everything we do is large. This includes how we maintain our landscapes. In Forney, Texas, our homes and businesses care about their properties and this includes our outdoor spaces. As we know, there are many different threats to our Texas lawns. With our warm temperatures and drier air, we attract all kinds of diseases and pests. One of those pests doesn’t get much attention, but it should because it can destroy an entire lawn. They are most common in our St. Augustine grasses. We are talking about the chinch bug. These pests can cause devastating damage and at a very fast pace. Here is everything you need to know about this harmful pest and how you can protect your lawn.
The adult southern chinch bug is 3 to 3.6 mm in length with a black body and white wings. Its wings are folded over the body and have a black triangle-shaped spot on each. Newly hatched nymphs appear orange-red with a pale whitish band across their abdomens. They cycle through five stages of growth and in doing so, gradually change color from red to orange to black and develop wing pads.
Adult chinch bugs overwinter in protected places like weeds and grasses and become active in the spring. During our milder winters here in Texas, all developmental stages may survive. Females lay eggs in the soil around host plants. The young, called nymphs, hatch from eggs after two weeks and go through five developmental stages that last about 30 days before they become adults. Two to five or more generations can occur annually.
Chinch bugs are attracted to the layer of thatch on your grass, or the layer of grass clippings and other organic material that sits on the base of your turf, just above the soil. Once they find a lawn with a thick layer of thatch, they make themselves at home, lay their eggs, and feast. They munch on the crown of your grass. In doing so, they suck out the sap and inject a toxic substance that blocks water from being transported in the grass blades. This results in the grass drying up and turning yellow or brown. Because chinch bug populations can grow quickly, you will see large irregular swathes of your turf turning brown or yellow. If you don’t address this quickly, the grass will die off.
Chinch bug damage can be tricky to determine. It often looks like heat stress or drought damage. If you want to be sure you have chinch bugs, you can try this handy dandy trick. Take a coffee can and cut the bottom out of it. Both ends of the coffee can should be open. Press the coffee can into or around a damaged area of your yard. Be sure that it is pressed all the way into the soil. Now, fill it with water. If you have chinch bugs, they will float to the top.
One way to control chinch bugs is by maintaining your layer of thatch. If your thatch is thicker than a half-inch, it will attract chinch bugs, grubs, and other lawn pests. You can try dethatching your lawn with a dethatching rake. If you have a large yard, lawn aeration is the answer for you.
At LawnLab, we use a process called liquid aeration. If you are familiar with aeration, you are probably familiar with core aeration which is the process of creating holes throughout your lawn to redistribute your soil. It is done with a mechanical machine that extracts tiny plugs from your grass. Liquid aeration, on the other hand, is a special liquid sprayed over your lawn to encourage the growth of beneficial microbes and enzymes within your soil. These microbes and enzymes naturally break down thatch and relieve the lawn of soil compaction.
While reducing your layer of thatch is a great way to control chinch bug infestations, what happens if the problem gets out of control? Sometimes a more targeted approach is needed. Here at LawnLab, we have a chinch bug control treatment for your lawn. Our insecticide targets chinch bugs where they live and eat.
Here at LawnLab, we understand the pain of having a chinch bug infestation. That’s why we offer targeted lawn treatments to help protect your lawn from these destructive pests. For best results, invest in our lawn care program to keep your grass healthy all year long.