Pest Control Tip-Chinch Bugs and St. Augustine Grass

The chinch bug or "blissus insularis"  attacks St. Augustinegrass (warm season turf grass) lawns year round in Southern Florida.  Down in the thatch each grass plant leaf contains plant fluids.  The chinch bug feeds on these fluids. When the bugs feeds it kills the grass plant and makes the grass plant vulnerable to weed invasion.

A Striped Lawn

The chinch bug is easily confused with several other insects commonly found in St. Augustine grass lawns. It is important to accurately identify which insects you have in your lawn for effective pest control management.  The adult southern chinch bug is approximately 1/8 to 1/10 of an inch long. Their wings fold flat against their back and they are shiny white with small triangular-shaped black markings along the middle of the outer edge of each wing.  Adult bugs may have long wings that allow them to fly or short wings that do not function for flying.  Each bug population may have representatives of both wing lengths. The body of the chinch bug is black. Adult females live about two months and lay between 250-300 eggs during their lifetime.  The females lays her eggs in leaf sheaths, soft soil and other protected areas.  When the eggs are laid they are white but just before hatching they turn bright orange or red. They average time for eggs to hatch is 10 days.  Nymphs reach maturity within 4-5 weeks. They change color from reddish-orange with a white stripe across the back to completely black when they become adults. The color change happens gradually, during molting, constantly darkening until the bug is all black.

Controlling chinch bug populations begins by properly mowing your lawn and minimizing the amount of thatch. During the grass growing season mow your lawn weekly. If the thatch becomes too thick (Over 1 inch thick) speak with your lawn care service about having the lawn vertically mowed or aerated. Insecticides should be used with care because they can kill off other bugs that help keep chinch bug populations under control. Your lawn care provider can help you implement an integrated pest management program to control chinch bugs and ensure the health of your lawn.

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