Chinch Bugs in the Lawn
In fall, a lawn service informed us we had chinch bug damage to our lawn. We thought it was just burned out from the hot, dry summer. How can we tell if we have chinch bugs? If so, how can we treat the lawn and prevent future problems?
Use a simple flotation test to see if chinch bugs are the culprit. Take a coffee or similar can and remove both ends. Sink the can into the soil at the edge of the dead area. Fill with water and agitate the grass. Chinch bugs and other insects will float to the surface. Remember that most insects are beneficial so don’t be too anxious to reach for the insecticide. Test several areas throughout the lawn. Treat only if you find 3 to 5 chinch bugs per test. Check for big-eyed bugs when doing the flotation test. These beneficial insects eat the chinch bugs. If present, they are already helping reduce the chinch bug population and damage. Applying an insecticide to the lawn will kill these beneficial insects as well as the cinch bugs. Proper watering and care will help improve the lawn’s appearance and reduce the risk of chinch bug damage. Overseed bare areas with fescues and ryegrasses that contain endophytes that make these grasses resistant to chinch bugs and other leaf-eating pests. Insecticides labeled for use on lawns should be the last resort.