It’s already chinch bug season, and now is the time to protect our landscapes from this destructive lawn pest before it multiplies and causes turf damage.
Chinch bugs can occur almost anywhere in a St. Augustine lawn but usually prefer areas in hot, dry locations such as along sidewalks or driveways. You can often see them by examining the grass near the soil surface. According to the University of Florida, this tiny pest, rarely measuring over 6 mm in length, causes millions of dollars in damage per year.
What do they look like?
Chinch bugs are tiny, hard-to-see insects that cause damage that is often confused with drought stress. They are red (when young) or black (when mature) with a white spot on the back in the shape of an “X.” As adults, they grow to about 1/4″ long.
How do they cause damage?
Chinch bugs suck the juices from grass blades and inject toxins back into the leaf blade. Irregular patches of the lawn first look drought-stressed, gradually turn yellow and then brown. Unless they are eliminated, they will continue to spread throughout the lawn.
What can a homeowner do to prevent them?
Follow recommended mowing and watering instructions. Allow treatments to move through the thatch layer of your lawn. Water deeply, but infrequently, paying close attention to ensure you’re not watering during or right after rainfall. You should also monitor your irrigation closely to ensure proper coverage and that irrigation heads are working properly. It is important to sod damaged areas to speed recovery and prevent uncontrollable weeds from invading.