Chinch bug and nymphs. Courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
This is the sixth of 11 Tricks to Make Sure Your Grass Is Always Greener, a free eBook. We’ll be posting a new trick on this blog every other week.
If you’ve noticed that your lawn is spotted with patches of brown, even when the grass is being adequately watered, you might have a chinch bug problem. These hungry pests feed on your grass, creating dead areas where the infestation exists.
The chinch bug is tiny, but it can still inflict a lot of damage on your lawn because it feeds off the sap of the grass. If left untreated, the bugs will eventually kill your entire yard. In South Florida, the peak of chinch bug activity is July through September, but can last throughout the entire year.
How do you know if you have a chinch bug infestation? Look for the following sequence:
- Your grass grows slower (compared to your neighbor’s unaffected lawn, for example)
- Grass turns yellowish in color
- Grass develops a reddish-brown hue
- Large sections of grass begin to die off
- Your lawn looks like it’s suffering from a drought
There are several factors that make a lawn more susceptible to a chinch bug infestation:
- Your neighbors have chinch bugs. These pests will easily travel to new lawns.
- You are over-watering or using too much fertilizer on your grass. Throwing off the balance of your yard’s nutrients and water level can invite new bugs.
- Your lawn is primarily St. Augustine grass–this is the chinch bug’s number one target.
- You have sandy or shelly soil.
If you have patience and some extra time, you can spot the actual chinch bugs on your grass if the infestation is severe. Go outside and check underneath multiple blades of grass. You can use a magnifying glass – or, grab a cordless vacuum cleaner, use it on the grass and take the results inside for examination. Be sure to empty the dirt and grime into a big bucket that can easily be cleaned later.
If you don’t find the bugs or aren’t sure if the ones you’ve found are chinch bugs, you can always ask us for help.