Chinch Bug: Most Wanted Pests Threatening Your Lawn [Part 1]

If you’ve never met a chinch bug, count yourself lucky. While there are a few different varieties, they all damage lawns by chomping down on grass near the blade’s base and sucking the sap out. Some even inject toxins into the blade, hastening its death.

These pests will create brown sections in your lawn by killing one blade at a time. They can however be prevented through proper maintenance and some extra steps.

If you need help, don’t be afraid to call in some extra help from Valley Green Companies.

Chinch Bug Species

Only two chinch bug species are active in Minnesota. The third is only active in the southern United States.

Be careful if trying to identify chinch bugs on your own – they can often be confused with big-eyed bugs (Geocorinae Geocoris) which are a beneficial predator, feeding on mites and harmful insects’ eggs. Use a magnifying glass.

When looking for chinch bugs, you’ll find them in irregular, browned areas of your lawn. You’ll often find them near the ground, in the thatch layer. Most obvious damage to your lawn will occur between June and September.

True Chinch Bug or Hairy Chinch Bug (Blissus Leucopterus)

The adult of this species is black with white markings on its wings, and is only about ⅕” long! The nymph (immature form) will appear very similar, just without wings and with orange-red markings instead of white.

True chinch bugs tend to spend the winter in leaf piles or near your foundation. In the spring, they’ll come out and start laying eggs every day for about three weeks. This process repeats a second time during the summer.

False Chinch Bug (Nysius Raphanus)

The adult of this species is grayish with black or brown markings, wings and measuring only about ⅛” long! The nymph will appear very similar, with red markings on the abdomen but missing wings.

False chinch bugs can release a smelly oil, similar to stink bugs. It’s unpleasant, but isn’t harmful to you or your pets.

Prevention And Mitigation

Once you’ve identified that you have chinch bugs, there are some steps you can take to fight them and prevent them in the future.

  • One option is to choose to plant resistant grasses. Typically, tall fescue, fine fescue and perennial ryegrass are more resistant than other grasses to chinch bug damage. Beware though, as some of these grasses can be toxic to livestock. Check with Valley Green Companies, as we can advise you on different grasses which work for your area.
  • Another option is to introduce the big-eyed bug to your lawn, discussed earlier. The big-eyed bug is actually the chinch bug’s main predator.
  • Clean up all leaves and brush before winter to reduce places for chinch bugs to wait for spring.
  • Be careful with your mowing. Mowing more than ⅓ of the blade off at one time, mowing too infrequently or mowing your grass shorter than 3-3-½” can add unnecessary stress to your lawn, making it more susceptible to damage from insects.
  • Water your lawn steady, slow and long. Chinch bugs tend to dislike moist environments. Use caution though, because moist environments can encourage other diseases and fungi.
  • Follow healthy lawn practices. Contact Valley Green to set up regular lawn maintenance and we can monitor your lawn’s health. A healthy lawn is much less susceptible to insect damage.
  • Lastly, you can use chinch bug control products to reduce and remove the population. The best time to use control products is in the spring, before mid-June. Call Valley Green Companies to safely apply them on your lawn.

Remember, if you need help we’re right down the road. Give us a call today!