Symptoms: Damage appears as irregular yellow patches of turf. These areas turn reddish brown and eventually die, while the chinch bugs move outward into healthy turf. A yellow halo around the damaged area is typical of a chinch bug infestation. Damage from chinch bugs shows up first in sunny areas with heat or drought stressed grass which is often areas near pavement or sidewalks. Although damaging infestations commonly occur from June into September, weather conditions may prolong this period.
What causes damage: Adult chinch bugs are black with white wings and are 3.0-3.6 mm long. Chinch bug development is temperature dependant, and eggs may require as little as one week to hatch during the summer but may require more than a month during the spring. Nymphal development typically requires four to six weeks during the summer. Chinch bugs damage turf by inserting their piercing sucking mouthparts into the crowns, stems and stolons of grass plants to remove sap. During this process they inject a toxin that causes the grass to turn yellow.
What we can do: Early detection is the key to optimizing chinch bug control because damage symptoms continue to appear for one or two weeks after an insecticide application has stopped chinch bug feeding. Turf exhibiting drought or heat stress symptoms should be visually inspected by spreading the canopy or by using the flotation technique. Affected areas of the lawn should be treated with a granular insecticide.
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