Walking into the yard, there are many insects you might find in the grass. You may see spiders, ants, grubs, mole crickets, or chinch bugs to name a few. You may be bitten by one of these insects and wonder which one it is and do chinch bugs bite? Even though they can destroy the lawn, they are harmless to humans. If they do bite, you may have itching and some discomfort but it will only last a minute. The chinch bug may mistake you for grass and try to bite you, but will let go quickly. Let’s take a look at chinch bugs.
What Are Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are found in the south and are small, slender, have white wings and triangular marks that are black in color. There are five phases they go through. The body changes from red with a white band that is light in color across the mid part of the body. Then, it changes to black and a white band. Adult chinch bugs grow to 1/5 inch. St. Augustine grass is very popular in yards but unfortunately, this is where chinch bugs prefer. Also, they feed on Bermuda and Zoysia grasses.
How Chinch Bugs Damage the Grass
Chinch bugs don’t like the winter months as they like dry and warmer climates. Unfortunately, in the warmer parts of the U.S., they can be active for much of the year. Chinch bugs suck the juices out of the grass when they eat. Then they inject their toxic saliva into the grass blades so water cannot flow to the grass. Thus, causing the grass to die.
Female chinch bugs lay a lot of eggs. In fact, up to 300 eggs if they have good weather conditions. The incubation time is two weeks and the life cycle of the chinch bug is 7-8 weeks. This means there could be 5 generations of chinch bugs born in a year in the warmer parts of the U.S!
How You Know You Have Damage
You know you have chinch bugs once you step on the grass and you see a large number of live, small insects. Additionally, you know you have a big problem and damage to your lawn if you have patches of grass that are irregular in shape and have dead grass surrounding it. At this point, you definitely want to contact a lawn care professional to help.
Preventing Chinch Bugs
There are some key ways to try to prevent chinch bugs.
- Water the lawn on a regular schedule – too much or too little moisture can cause issues.
- Low Amount or No Thatch – this can be avoided by a regular mowing schedule.
- Avoid over fertilizing – you want to make sure thatch is not too thick.
- Nitrogen – lower the amount that is applied.
- Add lacewings, ants, and bugs with big eyes to the area- These bugs will eat chinch bugs.
- Insecticide – apply a small amount of insecticide as soon as you see the grass turning yellow.
Here is a great video about using dish soap and water if you want to try to get rid of the chinch bugs before calling a pest control company.
Now that you know about chinch bugs, here are some other ideas for maintenance.
One area to keep an eye on is if mulch attracts termites. The good news is most mulch actually repels termites, but it is important to know which ones those are. If you use Cypress heartwood, Melaleuca Eucalyptus, Southern Tidewater Red Cypress, or California Redwood you will be in good shape and should avoid termites.
The next area is how often pest control should be done. Most companies will visit monthly or bi-monthly but can visit more often if there are issues. Sometimes when you have chinch bugs or other pest infestations, you may see your pest control company more often.
Lastly, you will want to keep an eye out for mice in the home, especially in the summer. One reason why they come in is to find food and water and to escape the heat elements outside. To keep them out, start with removing all trash from the home, eliminate cardboard, and keep your food airtight so they cannot chew their way to it.
When to Contact a Professional
Calling on a pest control company is important to keep the chinch bugs under control or to get rid of them. If you aren’t sure of a reputable pest control company, reach out to your local home inspection team as many of them have a pest control division. They can come out and take a look at your situation and recommend treatment for your lawn.
Chinch bugs can get out of control so you want to make sure you take care of them right away. They can spread into the neighbor’s yard as well and it might not make for a good relationship. As we learned, if a chinch bug bites you, you will barely feel it. An infestation is the bigger issue and you want to keep it under control.
If you have a chinch bug problem and want to keep them away hire a pest control company. Call Honor Services to assist you with some pest control recommendations while conducting a thorough pest inspection in Melbourne, FL, and surrounding areas.