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Beware: Chinch Bugs Can Damage and Kill Your Lawn

Chinch bug problems, Lawn Care Tips

The southern Chinch bug is a common turfgrass pest that thrives in the Southern United States and prefers dining on St. Augustine, as well as zoysia and centipede grasses. The damage this little critter inflicts on lawns in the south becomes evident in the hot, dry weather, leading many homeowners to believe that the cause is lack of water, or a fungus. Beware if you see unsightly patches of yellow grass spreading throughout your lawn. The Chinch bug can have a major impact on the health of your lawn and can even kill your grass when left untreated. 

These tiny pests live throughout the Winter in the thatch layer of many types of turf grass. Early in the spring, when a dormant lawn awakens, the next generation of nymphs emerge to feed on the sap of the grass and suck the life out of it. As they pierce the grass stems with their piercing mouths to feed on the sap they also inject a poison that causes a progressive death.  In the hot summer months the damage is visible as ever widening yellow or brown patches in the grass.

Thatch is partially decomposed organic matter that accumulates in a layer just above the soil surface and beneath the surface roots; a common trait of St. Augustine and Zoysia grasses. The thatch layer is the perfect environment for Chinch bugs and the high temperatures in the summer are ideal for bug densities to rapidly increase. It is very important, therefore, to apply a chemical treatment to avoid infestation of this pest. Because several generations of Chinch bugs may inhabit the thick turf of these types of grass, more than one application of chemicals may be required. 

Proper irrigation in the summer is also a necessity. Thick thatch layers of well established lawns can tend to hold water, preventing sufficient soil moisture; causing the grass to dry out faster in the hot sun. Mowing grass to the proper height helps to reduce the accumulation of thatch, and reduces the available habitat, while helping insecticide treatment to be more effective.

Some types of St. Augustine grass are considered resistant to the Chinch bug such as the Palmetto variety, along with the Floratam and Floralawn varieties, although there is speculation that the Chinch bug is becoming more tolerant. Overseeding with perennial ryegrass and tall fescue can help manage Chinch bug infestations because these grasses produce a toxin that kills them.

Consult A Clean Cut Lawn Care, your lawn care professionals, for proper diagnosis and treatment if you suspect the Chinch bug is damaging your lawn. Call us today at (479) 856-9800.