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Chinch Bugs

The hairy chinch bug is the primary pest of northeastern turfgrasses while the common chinch bug is more commonly found in the northern Plains States and transition turf zones. Hairy chinch bug adults are approximately 1/8 inch long and 3/64 inch wide. The head, pronotum and abdomen are gray-black in color and covered with fine hairs. The wings are white with a black spot located in the middle front edge. There are five nymphal instars, each of which change considerably in color and markings. The first instar has a bright orange abdomen with a cream colored band, brown head and thorax and is about 1/32 inch long. Second through fourth instars continue to have this general color pattern except that the orange color on the abdomen gradually changes to a purple-gray with two black spots. The fourth instar increases to more than 3/32 inch. In the fifth instar the wing pads are easily visible and the general color is black.

Damage and Diagnosis

Chinch bugs generally occur in scattered patches rather than being evenly distributed over the turf. Sunny areas are most heavily infested with populations sometimes reaching 200 to 300 per square foot. Plant injury occurs as a result of the insect sucking fluids from the plant and at the same time injecting salivary fluids into the plant. The presence of the salivary fluid disrupts the water-conducting system of the plant, causing it to wilt, turn yellow, then brown and die. Injury is particularly severe when heavy infestations occur in turf that is dormant from moisture stress. Such dry conditions are particularly conductive to chinch bug growth and population development. Visual scanning of sidewalks and driveways adjacent to infested turf on hot afternoons often reveals adults running across the pavement.

Several techniques work for detecting or monitoring chinch bug populations in turf. The simplest method is the "hands and knees" method. Use your thumbs and fingers to pull back grass stems to expose the crowns, thatch and chinch bugs adults and nymphs that hide at the base of the plants.

Our preventative grub control gives chinch bug "suppression," if you have elected to recieve this optional application. We also inspect you lawn for chinch bugs when we make our regular applications and if you are on our full program we apply a chinch bug control at no additional charge, if needed. If you are not on our full program and need chinch bug control, there is no additional charge.

Ref. - Destructive Turf Insects, Second Edtion
Harry D. Niemczyk, Ph.D., and David J. Shetlar, Ph.D.

 

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