Southern Chinch Bugs in Florida Lawns
Checking Insect Numbers In the Lawn:
Scouting the lawn for Chinchbugs and the signs of damage they can do should be done frequently to carefully monitor both harmful and beneficial insect populations.
Smaller nymphs are a bright red with a white band across the back. Larger nymphs and adult chinch bugs are about 1/5 of an inch long and black; the adult chinch bugs have white wings.
Damage done to Jacksonville | St. Augustine | North FLorida Lawns:
Chinch bugs suck plant juices from the grass causing irregular brown patches in the lawn. During dry hot weather these areas are often seen in what we refer to as the “hot spots” of the lawn, around driveways and along edges of walkways and in full hot sun areas that tend to stay dry.
Feeding Habits of Chinch bugs in North FLorida:
Chinch bugs are serious pests on St. Augustine grasses although they can feed on other grass sod varieties.
Reproduction and Life Cycle of Chinch Bugs:
Three generations of Chinch bugs will occur each year in North Florida Lawns. The eggs begin hatching around the middle of April. The nymphs are about the size of a pin head and will molt 5 times before reaching maturity.
Checking Chinch Bug Populations:
Use the float checking for bugs method to determine if chinch bugs are the problem with your brown patches in the lawn. With St. Augustine lawn it may be necessary to use a knife or shovel to cut into the soil where the can will go.
Control of Chinch Bugs in North Florida Lawns:
Natural Control of Chinch Bugs:
There are a lot of insects that pray on chinch bugs and chinch bug nymphs. The big black eyed bug, labidura earwigs, and anthrocoids among them. Both anthrocoids and big eyed bugs are commonly mistaken for chinch bugs and chemical treatment is unnecessarily applied killing the beneficial insects present in the lawn.
You should be able to see all stages of the Chinch bug as they will all be present in the lawn most of the year, including the baby bright red nymphs before you treat with chemicals. The presence of beneficial insects in the testing should imply that natural means of control are underway and further chemical treatment is not needed as long as proper cultural methods are being followed.
Cultural Control of Lawn Chinch Bugs:
Closely following proper mowing fertilizing and watering recommendations for Florida reduce the damage that chinch bugs can do to the lawn.
Scouting the area for chinch bugs regularly during the year can help you keep an eye out for excessive populations as well as beneficial insects in the area.
Chemical Control For Chinch Bugs:
When chinch bugs have been identified and numbers begin to exceed 20-25 per square foot chemical treatment may be necessary. Chemicals such as Orthene, Diazanon or Dursban should be applied according to the package label directions for southern chinch bug treatment.
Treated grass should be irrigated lightly to move the chemical to the thatch layer where chinch bugs are feeding.
Consider spot treatments when small areas are beginning to form along sidewalks and driveways before excessive damage occurs. Treat damaged area and surrounding areas about 6 ft out.
A Word of Caution with Chemicals from Me to You:
Perhaps it is my many years of dealing with the people in the Agriculture industry who have lived long lives and encountered many troubles with chemicals during their careers, but I cannot talk about chemical control without at least my mentioning the following concerns.
Make sure to read all directions carefully and apply liquid sprays diluted with water at the application rate recommended on the product label for the pest you are targeting and do not mix stronger than suggested target treatment rates.
Remember that insecticides are POISONS and approach their use with caution, wear protective eye gear and chemical resistant gloves and rubber boots as well as long sleeved shirts and pants. Remember to wash these items separately from other laundry immediately after application and shower after getting the clothes into the laundry.
Lastly but most importantly, pay particular attention to lock unused chemicals up away from visiting children and pets.
So that’s it on the speech about chemicals, I hope I have been able to help you know what’s wrong and how to treat it so now you have to help me sleep easier by indulging me with these motherly concerns, fair trade don’t you think? I’ll sleep easier knowing that you did.