What Are Chinch Bugs?

If you have beautiful and healthy St. Augustinegrass and hear the name “chinch bug,” you might panic. Now that summer has arrived, it can be easy to forget that household pests aren’t the only ones looking for food and shelter. Lawn insects are looking for the same thing too.  You may be wondering – what are they? What can they do to my lawn? We’re here to tell you!

What are chinch bugs?

Chinch bugs are tiny, hard-to-see insects that cause lawn damage which can often be confused with drought stress.

When these lawn bugs are young, they are a red color but as they mature to adults, they turn black and have a white spot on their back in the shape of an “X.” Adults grow to be about a quarter inch long.

According to University of Florida, chinch bugs have the ability to fly but only a small portion of the population appears to utilize flight as a means for traveling. Most of the time, these pesky lawn bugs move from lawn to lawn within a neighborhood by walking from a heavily infested area to a fresh area to feed. Interesting fact: during relocation, they can cover over 400 feet in under and hour.

These insects can occur almost anywhere in a lawn with St. Augustinegrass. However, they are usually found in hot, dry locations such as along sidewalks or driveways. You can often see them by examining the grass near the surface of the soil.

Adults will sometimes hibernate in the winter. At all stages of life, these pests, are present year-round in most of the state of Florida due to the warm climate. Throughout most states, these pests are active from April through October.

Figure 1: The life cycle of the chinch bug from egg to adult.
Why are chinch bugs a problem?

Believe it or not, these tiny lawn pests cause millions of dollars in damage per year as homeowners seek to control outbreaks by applying treatments and replacing damaged grass. These pests suck the juices from grass blades and inject toxins back into the leaf blade causing the grass to die. 

What does chinch bug damage look like?

As you can see below, symptoms appear as irregular patches of lawn that resemble drought stress. These areas gradually turn yellow, then brown and then the grass dies. The dead grass will have a yellowing on the outside margin and the growth of the yellow grass will be stunted. Weeds will begin filling in the dead areas. 

chinch bug

How do I get rid of chinch bugs?

Once you have a chinch bug problem, it can be hard for homeowners to get rid of them. It’s suggested that you contact a professional to apply treatments to active infestations. If you’re unsure if you have a chinch bug problem, contacting a professional is the best way to go!

How can I prevent chinch bugs?

There are things that you can do to prevent these bugs from attacking your St. Augustinegrass. 

It’s no surprise that properly taking care of your lawn through maintenance and proper healthcare (including nutrition and weed and disease control) can help prevent damage. Ultimately, partnering with a professional to help prevent them can be the best way to go especially if you’re suspicious of chinch bug activity in your lawn. 

A professional can ensure your lawn receives proper fertilization and irrigation to greatly reduce the likelihood of these invasive pests. 

If you’re in need of a lawn or irrigation professional to help rid of or prevent chinch bugs in your St. Augustinegrass, complete the form below!

Our professionally trained experts know exactly what to do to help you prevent and get rid of chinch bugs. 

For more information on Massey Services chinch bug prevention and treatment services, click here to schedule your free no-obligation inspection.