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How to Control  and Kill Chinch Bugs

Non Chemical Control of Chinch Bugs

Chinch BugsThatch removal is important for eliminating conditions favorable for chinch bug survival.  Maintaining adequate moisture will increase the tolerance of turf to feeding damage and will promote beneficial fungi that attack chinch bugs.  Low nitrogen fertilization slows chinch bug reproduction although the lawns regularly attacked by these insects (St. Augustine) are heavy feeders and prefer more fertilizer than other turf grasses.  Consult your local county extension office about feeding your St. Augustine grass.

Chemical Control

When you are trying to control Chinch bugs there are 2 great products we recommend: Two products that are superior control agents when it comes to Chinch Bug Control: Talstar (which contains Tengard and Merit (Imidacloprid). They each have a different control mechanism. Talstar will attack the insect whereas Merit will control systemically. Merit is absorbed into the turfs vascular system and when the Chinch bugs try to feed on the grass they ingest the merit and are eliminated. However, Talstar has suddenly become the star performer in eliminating lawn and turf pests such as mole crickets, ants and chinch bugs.

For best results, wet turf thoroughly with water before applying an insecticide. Treat the entire area evenly and thoroughly. Wet the area with water again after applying the insecticide. Where chinch bug infestations are heavy, re-treat the area in 2 weeks to kill recently hatched insects, unless you are treating with Talstar. In this case, repeat applications may not be necessary. Always follow specific product label instructions.

Talstar liquid concentrate should be applied through a hose end sprayer at the rate of 1/2 ounce per 1000 square feet. Talstar granules should be applied at the rate of 25 pounds per 1/4 acre and irrigated immediately after application.

Chinch BugChinch bugs can cause extensive damage to St Augustine grass, but has also been found in Zoysia, Bermuda and Centipede grasses. But the highest damage is typically St. Augustine grasses. The adult is about 1/5 th of an inch long and black with white wings folded over their backs.

The chinch bug mates early in the season when the temperatures reach over 70 degrees. The female will lay eggs on roots, stems, leaves, leaf sheath or crevices. Eggs are laid over a 2 week period with one female able to lay as many as 500 eggs. There are 2 to 4 generations per year and the Nymph (young chinch bug) develop in four to six weeks. Nymphs are yellow when they hatch but will soon turn red and have a light colored band across their abdomens.

Chinch Bugs are sucking insects, when this happens it releases a toxin that causes the yellowish to brownish patches in turf.  The injury appears as a spreading patch of brown, dead grass.  Chinch bugs are sun loving insects and will primarily attack bright full sun areas.  You will probably start to notice brown patches along driveways, curbs, sidewalks or foundation of the home because of the heat that is emitted.

Chinch Bugs can fly so it is difficult to keep chinch bugs out of your yard if they are emerging from golf course, and neighbors yard.

Tips for Professionals

  • An approximate action threshold (level at which damage begins to appear) for chinch bugs on susceptible St. Augustine grass varieties, (e.g., ‘common’ and ‘Raleigh’) is 20 to 25 chinch bugs per square foot.
  • An alternative sampling method to simply parting the grass and looking for the insects is the flotation method. A coffee can (with the top and bottom lids removed) should be pushed into the ground with a twisting motion. Use a knife, if necessary, to cut the grass around the rim. Fill the can with water for about 10 minutes and check for chinch bugs as they float to the surface. Action thresholds for samples taken with 4-inch and 6-inch diameter coffee cans are an average of two, and four to five chinch bugs per sample, respectively. Several samples should be taken from different locations in the damaged (not dead) grass.
  • Big-eyed bugs closely resemble, and often are mistaken for, chinch bugs. Big-eyed bugs are beneficial predators that kill chinch bugs and many other pests. Although similar in size to chinch bugs, big-eyed bugs have large, protruding eyes and a head at least as wide as the thorax (the leg-bearing part of the body). Chinch bugs have small heads (narrower than the thorax); eyes are small in proportion to the head; and their bodies are more slender. Big-eyed bugs do not have the distinctive white wings with black triangular marks that chinch bugs have.
  • Additional labeled pesticides for professionals include bifenthrin (Talstar®), ethoprop (imidacloprid (Merit®), and permethrin (Tengard) Use of surfactants in spray solutions may enhance control, especially in turf with heavy thatch.
  • Regular, light top-dressing of turfgrass with compost, or soil similar to the existing soil, can help lessen thatch problems.
  • In turfgrass that is regularly infested with chinch bugs, use organic, or slow-release, nitrogen sources and try lowering the rate of applied nitrogen. Lower rates of nitrogen (e.g., 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year) have been shown to make grass less attractive to chinch bugs and can reduce the need for sprays.

Publications and reference guides for Chinch bugs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinch_bug

The term chinch bug can refer to a few different North American insects: Blissus insularis the Southern Chinch Bug; Blissus leucopterus the true Chinch Bug

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/112255/chinch-bug

Britannica online encyclopedia article on chinch bug (insect), (Blissus leucopterus), important grain and corn pest belonging to the insect family Lygaeidae (order Heteroptera).

http://pmo.umext.maine.edu/factsht/chinch.htm

Chinch bugs cause serious damage in the thick turf of lawns and golf courses. Dying or dead areas of a lawn can signal the presence of this pest. Dry seasons seem to favor its spread and make its damage more noticeable. Chinch bugs tend to be more of a problem in southern Maine.

Old plague:  The cavortin' chinch bug

Philip Busey

During the second UF Turf Conference Louis C. Kuitert spoke about the cavortin chinch bug, causing damage in "considerably greater intensity than in prior years...tremendous increase in the population."  This build up of turf damaging insect, he explained in 1954, was probably due to hot, dry weather.

Much of Dr. Kuitert's presentation concerned the biology of the chinch bug, and how little was known.  Today the chinch bug still remains an elusive creature.  From a practical viewpoint, you know you have chinch bugs when your lawn is destroyed.  Or you would like to think you know.  In 1954, Kuitert estimated that 40% of the chinch bug diagnoses were mistaken.  While the southern chinch bug, which attacks St. Augustinegrass, causes massive damage, many people have never seen a chinch bug.  Therefore, the first thing to do when you see rapidly yellowing patches in St. Augustinegrass is to get on your hands and knees, and quickly, gently part the grass to look for bugs.

Southern Chinch Bug Management on St. Augustinegrass

Eileen A. Buss

The southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis Barber, is currently the most difficult-to-control and damaging insect pest of St. Augustinegrass in Florida. Nymphs and adults feed on plant fluids within leaf sheaths, down in the thatch, and this feeding kills the grass plants and contributes to weed invasion. Homeowners and lawn care companies seek to prevent this damage by repeatedly applying insecticides to keep chinch bug numbers low. However, numerous chinch bug populations have developed resistance to every major chemical class that has been used against them and host plant resistance has been overcome. An integrated pest management program, or resistance management program, must be implemented to keep chinch bug populations under satisfactory control and keep St. Augustinegrass as a viable lawn turfgrass in Florida.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh036

These labeled pesticides that are very effective when you want to kill Chinch bugs include Talstar®), ethoprop (imidacloprid (Merit®), and permethrin (Tengard) Use of surfactants in spray solutions may enhance control, especially in turf with heavy thatch.

  • Regular, light top-dressing of turfgrass with compost, or soil similar to the existing soil, can help lessen thatch problems.
  • In turfgrass that is regularly infested with chinch bugs, use organic, or slow-release, nitrogen sources and try lowering the rate of applied nitrogen. Lower rates of nitrogen (e.g., 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year) have been shown to make grass less attractive to chinch bugs and can reduce the need for sprays.

When you are trying to control Chinch bugs in your lawn remember to always follow the professional insecticide labels on individual items.

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