The chinch bug is a lawn pest that kills grass by sucking the sap out of it and injecting a toxic saliva with its pointy mouthpiece.
These bugs are very common in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They prefer hot, dry weather and will not usually be prevalent in large numbers in wet conditions. Chinch bugs can survive through the winter in warm, sheltered locations and will come back out when the weather gets warmer.
Adults are black with shiny white wings and are approximately 1/8 in (0.35 cm) long. Nymphs are an orange-red color with a white band across the middle and have no wings. It is these nymphs that are responsible for most of the damage caused to your grass. As the nymphs mature they darken in to a brown color and finally become black just before they become adults.
Chinch bugs will damage the grass, creating round, brownish-yellow dead patches of lawn. However, damage to your grass may not be noticeable until you have a large number of these pests present on your lawn.
Other factors such as hot temperatures, drought, gravelly soil, dog urine, and fertilizer burn may cause this type of damage as well therefore it is important to monitor your grass for chinch bugs before assuming that you have an infestation.
In order to prevent large populations from residing in your grass begin monitoring for these pest in June before the weather becomes hot and large populations develop.
Steps that you can take to help prevent infestations and damage to your lawn include:
- Keeping your lawn well fertilized.
- Cutting the grass so that it stands 2-4 inches (6-7 1/2 cm) high.
- Removing thatch.
- Maintaining proper moisture levels.
- Avoiding water build up.
- Aerating the lawn if it is compacted.
- Using a resistant type of grass that can withstand a chinch bug attack. If you are planting new grass or reseeding be sure to use at least 6 inches of topsoil.
Chemical sprays and insecticides are not recommended for use against pests unless it is entirely necessary.
In the case that you do find yourself with a large population of these bugs, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation suggest food grade diatomaceous earth as a solution to your problem. Diatomaceous earth is often used as a natural insecticide and works to kill pests such as chinch bugs by lacerating their exoskeletons and dehydrating them.
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