You can control Chinch bugs with non chemical methods by thatch removal. Thatch 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.
The chinch bug typically 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.
When you are trying to control Chinch bugs using a chemical method there are a few great products that are typically recommend: Bifenthrin and Imidacloprid. Products that are superior control agents when it comes to Chinch Bug Control: Talstar (which contains Bifenthrin), Tengard and Merit (Imidacloprid). They each have a different control mechanism of chemical control. Talstar, chemical Bifenthrin will attack the insect whereas Merit, chemical imidacloprid will control systemically (meaning it is taken up through the plant system. 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. You always want to follow specific product label instructions available on products.
Typical rate of liquid concentrate should be applied through a hose end sprayer at the rate of 1/2 ounce per 1000 square feet. If you prefer a granular Bifenthrin, Talstar granules application rate is 25 pounds per 1/4 acre and irrigated immediately after application.
Taking proper care of your lawn so that you are the envy of all your neighbors is easier when you understand the all possible pest problems. Controlling a Chinch Bug infestation should be attacked quickly and with the correct products, this will make any homeowner more successful with Chinch Bug Control.