Got a hot, sunny and dry spot?
Yup? Then you have the perfect conditions for chinch bugs. Now that our much appreciated summer rains seem to have come to an end, start looking for these little stinkers. Their dirty work can destroy your lawn in no time. At about 1/4 of the size of a grain of rice, they are hard to see. They are voracious, eating, breeding machines. Chinch bugs infestations are sort of like red neck family reunions…everyone is related, the kids all look-alike, there’s a lot of drinking and the place is wrecked after the party.
The camp grounds
First, they pick a sunny spot, typically near the street, sidewalk or drive way. The concrete makes the soil hotter and drier, which they love. If you have a sprinkler system, you might see them where the heads don’t cover well enough. Checking your system regularly for proper coverage and applying enough water is important to preventing chinch bugs. You will never see chinch bugs in a shady, moist or well irrigated area. Whether you have a sprinkler system or not, stay on top of those hot spots.
What’s on the menu?
Think of your lawn as chinch bug beer. Chinch bugs mainly feed on St. Augustine grass, but in a pinch will feed on Bermuda or Zoysia (sort of like a redneck running out of cheap beer and being forced to buy a more expensive brand). How can such a tiny pest do so much damage? It’s not just a matter of them sucking your plants dry. While they’re sucking the sap out of the stolons and crowns of your grass, they are injecting a toxic substance. The spit of these little Bubba’s, is what really does all the damage. It prevents the grass from being able to send water past that point. Think of it like a clogged artery, which will kill you. The same thing happens to your grass. After they dry up each piece of the lawn, they move on to the next keg…these guys can really party.
The party is never over.
In our typically mild winters, chinch bugs will survive to start over the following year. Once the conditions are right, chinch bugs go from egg to adult in roughly 6 weeks and between 2 and 5 generations can be seen during one year. Last year was definitely a 5 generation situation. If you have chinch bugs this year, it’s likely that they will come back next year. Preventing them is as easy as watering that area more, it is also the cheapest thing you can do. If they are allowed to spread, you’re going to have to resod the lawn(remember last year?)…and we will gladly take your money to do that! On the other hand, you can evict these hillbilly bugs by either spraying or apply a granular insecticide. We suggest spraying 1st, then coming back with a granule. This way, you knock them down and the get the longer benefit from the granules. Do not become complacent or chinch bugs will become the unwanted, red-neck in laws that eat your food, drink your beer and never leave.