Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bug Inspection Guide

How to Check For Chinch Bug Damage & Signs

  Print Article By DoMyOwn staff


Chinch Bug Damage Can Be Confused With Other Problems

Chinch bug damage can often be confused with drought stress or lawn disease, so it's crucial to learn the signs of chinch bugs and how to inspect for them in your turf.

Remember that identification of these bugs is important. There are some look-alikes, such as big-eyed bugs (which have very large pronounced eyes) and minute pirate bugs, which are not generally considered pests.

Step 1

Know The Appearance of Chinch Bug Damage

Chinch bugs use their piercing mouthparts to suck sap out of grass blades, and inject a substance into plants that interrupts water movement in the plant structure, causing it to die.

Damage begins as small yellowing areas of grass. Grass will turn brown and die, and as the grass dies, chinch bugs will move to the perimeter of the dead grass, causing the dead patches to expand outwards. While the dead areas may start out small, with heavy feeding they will likely converge in and create large dead areas.

While it may appear to be drought stress damage, grass will not green up after watering as it would with actual drought stressed grass.

Step 2

When & Where To Expect Chinch Bug Damage

You can expect the bulk of chinch bug feeding damage to be visible in late June through August and early September, when eggs laid in the early spring hatch and nymphs develop.

Damage usually occurs in very sunny areas of your turf, especially when weather is hot or dry.

Lawns with thick thatch or especially thick, lush lawns are susceptible to chinch bug populations and damage, since the thatch or thick turf offers a great place for adults to feed and lay eggs.

Step 3

Check For Chinch Bug Infestations

If you suspect chinch bugs are present in your lawn, there are two ways to inspect for chinch bug infestations.
  • Manually spread turf near crown or thatch to see any chinch bug activity. Since these bugs are so small, a magnifying glass will probably be helpful. If damaged grass is near sidewalks or pavement, you may be able to see adult bugs crawling across the ground on hot sunny days.
  • You can conduct a "float test," which may be easier than trying to find the bugs in your turf. Use a metal cylinder open on both ends, like a coffee can that has both ends removed, and press down about three inches into the soil. Fill about 3/4 full with water, and continue to add water to maintain this water level for about ten minutes. Agitate or stir the turf that is underwater, and chinch bugs should float to the top. Count the number of chinch bugs you see. Generally, seeing more than 15 insects per square foot is the threshold to treating this pest.

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