Chinch Bugs & Your Yard

The Southern Threat to Your Yard

Central Texas has survived the scorching heat and flooding storms of Summer ‘16. Fall may still be a few weeks away from bringing cold temperatures our way, making it the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and specifically your lawn. Unfortunately, with our wettest days behind us and temperatures still in the 90s, our lawns can become vulnerable to chinch bugs.

What is a Chinch Bug?

The southern chinch bug, also known as Blissus insularis, has affected lawns for hundreds of years. They are most common in the southern states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and parts of California. St. Augustine grass may be these insect pests’ favorite home, but they also enjoy other types of turf lawns too.

While many factors can cause a lawn to die, a common first sign of the southern chinch bug attacking your lawn is a developing yellow/brown patch of grass. It’s even more likely to be chinch bugs if the dead grass is near a heat source (like a radiator or hot sidewalk), as younger chinch bugs and eggs thrive in dry heat. The environment makes it difficult for diseases that kill developing chinch bugs to survive. Dry, hot areas promote chinch bugs to survive, giving them a tiny army to raid your grass.

Once southern chinch bugs begin to eat away at your lawn, the dried grass areas will develop a pattern. This is a sure-tell sign you’re dealing with chinch bugs. As the thatch (layer where roots meet soil) of your lawn begins to dry out, the chinch bugs will travel upward on grass blades to find water. If they don’t find any moisture on the blades of grass, they will continue to steal moisture from the blades themselves and inject toxins. The toxins keep the grass from regaining moisture, leaving your lawn completely dried out.

Tips to Protect Your Lawn

While it’s impossible to rid the world of chinch bugs, it is possible to maintain a healthy yard in hot, dry times, even with Chinch bugs in the area!

  1. Regularly Water Your Lawn: Water is crucial to keeping Chinch bugs out of your lawn. Never water your lawn and they will run rampant. Water your lawn too much they may still run rampant. A good gauge on how much to water your lawn is to do so until the grass leaves start to curl.
  2. Trim Taller: The longer the blade, the more efficient it will be in catching and retaining water. When mowing your lawn, adjust the mower’s setting to allow for taller grass. It will not only help your lawn keep the southern chinch bug away but other insect pests as well.
  3. De-thatch: Minimizing the amount of thatch in your lawn can keep chinch bugs from hanging out in your backyard
  4. Chinch-resistant grass: While this may only be an option for those creating their lawns, there are types of turf grass available that are more resistant to chinch bugs.