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Knowing The Chinch Bug

Chinch bugs are a pest insect common throughout much of the United States. Derived from the Spanish “Chinche,” their name can literally translate to “nuisance.” They can be very damaging to ornamental grasses and plants, and can devastate entire lawns. Though they can be found in many states, they prefer a lot of sunlight and many grasses that are native to Florida, specifically St. Augustine grass. If you were looking for a perfect environment for this pest, Florida would be it. This can make them especially troublesome for Florida home and business owners. For this reason, chinch bugs control is especially important for the health of your lawn.


The first step to chinch bug control is finding out if you have them. The damage they cause looks a lot like drought damage, with dry brown spots appearing in lawns. As their population grows, the spots spread out, and will eventually consume the entire yard. The insects themselves can be hard to see in the grass, so other methods for identification are helpful. An adult chinch bug has a black body with wings that fold flat on its back. Their wings are mostly shiny white with a little bit of black on the middle of the outer edge of each wing, giving the appearance of an x on their backs.

The “can method” is popular for identifying a chinch bug infestation. Cut both ends off of a tin can, and push one end of the can about an inch into the suspected area of infestation. Fill the can with soapy water, and keep it filled for about ten minutes. Insects in the grass will float to the surface, making it easier to identify them. Chinch bugs can be difficult to identify by sight, and look different at various stages of their lifecycle. If you suspect an infestation, it may be best to have an expert come take a look.

Lawn Maintenance

Proper lawn maintenance is one of the keys to controlling chinch bugs. A healthy lawn is much more likely to resist or survive a chinch bug infestation. Thatch, the buildup of lawn clippings, provides a place for chinch bugs to hide and breed. While thatch is an important component of a healthy lawn, if it gets too thick it will promote chinch bug activity. Tall grass also provides an ample food source, as well as providing a place for the females to lay eggs. Keeping the lawn neatly trimmed and dethatched can help make it less desirable to the chinch bug. A healthy lawn is also more resistant to all types of pests, meaning your grass will bounce back faster if you do experience an infestation.

Lawn Treatment

If an infestation does exist, it may be necessary to use chemical treatments to eliminate the colony. Liquid or pelletized lawn chemicals can help kill off chinch bugs, interrupt their breeding cycle, or otherwise drive them away. Knowing what type of treatment to use, and how much to use at a given time isn’t always easy. Over-treating can damage the lawn, or present a health hazard to pets and children. Under-treatment can fail to eliminate the infestation, and leave the remaining colony more resistant to the chemical treatments. An expert can help you determine what treatment you need, and how much of it to use.

Getting Help

An untreated chinch infestation can wipe out entire lawns in a matter of weeks. What appears to be a small colony can quickly grow out of control once warm, sunny weather hits. Getting ahead of the problem, and then staying ahead of it, isn’t always easy. Proper identification, maintenance, and treatment take time, training, and experience. Mistakes along the way can lead to more damage to your lawn, and allow the colony to increase its numbers and further damage your grass and plants. If you have growing brown spots in your yard, and watering isn’t solving the problem, there’s a good chance you have a chinch bug colony. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling the infestation yourself, experienced Florida pest control companies can help keep  your lawn looking green.

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