Organic Control Of Chinch Bugs
Do You Have Chinch Bugs?
Widely distributed throughout the United States, there are several species of chinch bugs that are damaging to turf grass. They are usually found on drought-stressed lawns where they puncture grasses with their needle-like beaks and suck the fluids out. As a result of their feeding, large irregular patches of lawn begin to turn yellow then brown as they die. These patches often begin on the edges of lawns and will continue to get larger, even when properly watered. Damage occurs most frequently during hot, dry weather from June through September. In my opinion this is the worst pest to have in the lawn. Spot it, kill it, fast.
Adult chinch bugs (1/4 inch long) are black and white with whitish wings marked by a dark triangle on their outer margins. Nymphs are easily recognized by their bright red color and white band across the back. Both adults and nymphs produce a strong odor that often gives them away, especially when pest numbers are high or they are crushed under foot.
Adult chinch bugs overwinter in dry grasses and other debris that offers them protection. In spring or early summer the insects mate and females begin depositing eggs on the leaves and stems of grass. One female can lay as many as 500 eggs. These hatch in 1-3 weeks into nymphs which feed voraciously and pass through 5 instars before becoming adults. There are usually 2 overlapping generations each year.
Chinch Bug Control
- Practices that promote healthy lawns help to reduce the occurrence of this problematic turf pest.
- Mow lawns at the recommended maximum height.
- Try NOTto remove more than 1/3 of the leaf surface in any one mowing.
- Improve soil conditions by top-dressing with organic matter such as compost or well-aged animal manure.
- Keep lawns well watered, especially during hot summer months and use slow-release organic fertilizers..
- Commercially available Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, will feed on a large numbers of these pests.
- Spot treat small infestations with SaferSoap . Approved for organic use, it penetrates the protective outer shell of insect pests and causes dehydration and death within hours.
- Apply food-grade Diatomaceous Earth for long-lasting protection. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. Contains NO toxic poisons!
- Broadcast EcoSMART Insect Killer Granules over lawns and landscapes to eliminate or repel all kinds of troublesome pests.
- Least-toxic botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.
Tip: A coffee can with both ends cut out can be used to determine the level of infestation. Force one end of the can into the soil, fill with water, then watch as pests float to the top.