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Chinch Bugs: Don't Let These Pests Take Over Your Lawn

If you're struggling to keep your thirsty lawn healthy this summer, the last thing you want to face is an outdoor bug infestation. One of the pests you may battle this year is the chinch bug. Chinch bugs can attack almost any kind of grass, including ryegrass and St. Augustine grass. You can prevent the complete destruction of your lawn with the information, helpful tips, and precautions below.

How Do You Recognize Chinch Bugs?

Many types of chinch bugs exist throughout the United States, including Florida and Pennsylvania. The pests can survive throughout the year, including during the cold season. Most chinch bugs hibernate in grass during winter and emerge once the weather warms up. Although a great number of chinch pests can live all over your yard, you probably won't spot them until you examine your lawn carefully. The bugs tiny size allows them to go unseen and unheard.

All adult chinch bugs grow up to 1/5 inches long or slightly larger, depending on the region they live in. Adults usually appear grayish-black in color with white wings and red or orange-brown legs. Young pests have bright orange or reddish orange bodies and usually feature a cream-colored band across their midsections. The colors of young chinch bugs change to black once the bugs become adults. Hair covers most of the bodies of most chinch bugs, which gives them the "hairy bug" appearance.

Now that you know what chinch bugs look like, it's time to learn how they annihilate lawns. 

How Do Chinch Bugs Destroy Lawns?

Chinch bugs don't actually eat the grass they infect. Instead, the bugs use tiny mouthpieces that resemble straws to suck the juices out of grass and other plants. If your grass already suffers from dehydration, a chinch bug infestation can cause enough damage to kill your lawn. 

Grass needs water, sunlight, good soil conditions, and some type of fertilizer to grow green and healthy. During times of droughts (poor rainfalls), grass can lose much of its moisture to heat. To keep your grass from dying, you use a supplemental watering system like your sprinkler system. But when chinch bugs show up, they zap the water from your grass.

Small patches of dying or dehydrated grass eventually appear in your lawn. As chinch bugs suck the nectar and nutrients from your grass, the patches become larger and more noticeable. If you move or spread the patches of grass with your fingers or a gardening tool, you may be able to spot the bugs.

Some sources recommend using the "coffee can" test to see if you have cinch bugs in your lawn. Remove the bottom lid from the can, then insert the can into the soil of one of the patches. The top of the can should stick 3 to 4 inches out of the ground. Fill the can with water, then wait five to six minutes or so. If you do have chinch bugs in your lawn, you should see some of the pests floating around in the water.

Once you confirm that you have chinch bugs, you can take steps to get rid of them. If you water your lawn more frequently, you may be able to get rid of the pests. However, your water usage and expenses may increase. Chemical treatments purchased from a local retailer may not be good options for you as well. Some chemicals may actually destroy the predators that feed off chinch bugs, including the beetles. 

You can contact pest control service and request lawn care treatment. Pest control can use safe chemical treatments on your lawn to treat your chinch bug problem. In addition, contractors can develop a preventative treatment plan for your lawn. The plan may involve spraying or treating your lawn in the summer when adult bugs emerge to feed. Contractors may decide to treat your grass in the spring or before chinch bug populations grow out of control. 

To learn more about lawn treatment options, contact a business like Southern Greens Pest Control.