How to Get Rid of Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are the scourge of lawns and wheat fields everywhere as a result of their ravenous appetite and astounding ability to rapidly reproduce. At their peak levels of infestation, you can expect to find as many as 300 chinch bugs in a square foot of turf.
If you don’t know how to get rid of chinch bugs promptly, your lawn won’t stand a ghost of a chance. In this article, we’ll teach you how to get rid of chinch bugs so that you’ll know what to do when you see the telltale signs of their detrimental presence.
How To Tell If You Have Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are a common pest in the southern and midwestern parts of North America, especially during the mid-summer through mid-fall seasons.
Chinch bugs love to hang around areas where there are direct sunlight and plenty of starchy plants to eat, meaning that they love wheat fields and savannahs. If you have chinch bugs, you may have a hard time identifying them, however.
Chinch bugs are scarcely a sixth of an inch long, meaning that they will nearly always escape your sight when you’re outdoors.
Thankfully, if you pay attention, chinch bug infestations have a handful of identifying characteristics, including:
- Patches of dead grass
- Dehydrated husks of corn, wheat, or barley
- The presence of bright red mites which appear to have wings
- The presence of one or more fully-grown chinch bugs
Chinch bugs are the most common between July and October when freshly mature chinch bugs wander around to feed and breed.
In the chinch bug lifestyle, adult bugs lay eggs after they breed. Most bugs lay anywhere between 100 and 500 eggs, the majority of which hatch after two weeks of incubation. The peak egg-laying season is at the start of July.
You probably won’t see the chinch bug nymphs because they’re even smaller than normal chinch bugs, but if you were to see them, they would appear to be tiny red mites with non-functional wings.
The nymphs grow over the course of a month, and then they are ready to reproduce and lay new eggs of their own.
This means that if you notice a chinch bug infestation and wait a month before trying to deal with it, you might easily have ten or a hundred times as many chinch bugs to eradicate.
In other words, the best way for how to get rid of chinch bugs is to nip the problem in the bud before it grows beyond your control.
How to Treat Chinch Bugs
Chinch bug treatment is easy with a few lawn and field best practices and a little bit of additional pesticide spraying. Your plan of attack against a chinch bug infestation should be the following:
- Trim the lawn to a short height
- Water the lawn consistently
- Reseed dead patches of lawn with endophyte enhanced seeds to discourage chinch bugs from eating your grass
- Encourage predators like ladybugs to move into your yard
Remember, treating chinch bugs is more than just killing all of the bugs that are eating your lawn. You need to treat your entire lawn differently so that it is no longer a hospitable environment for chinch bugs.
When you keep your lawn cut short, chinch bug populations don’t have as much to eat in any given section of the grass. This means that they will have a harder time reproducing, as their food supply will be finite. In a closely-cut square foot of grass, there’s only enough food for 10-20 bugs rather than several hundred.
Similarly, when you keep your lawn adequately watered, the chinch bugs won’t be able to consume the grass as easily, meaning that it will take the remaining chinch bugs much longer to destroy the grass via overconsumption.
Nor will they be able to roost and reproduce as quickly. They’ll also need to compete with beneficial moisture-loving bugs in your lawn, like earthworms.
Moist conditions are also preferable for many of the bugs which eat chinch bugs, like ladybugs. More importantly, when your lawn is adequately watered, the grass and dirt are healthier than when they are desiccated.
When your lawn is weakened from a lack of water, it’s easier for chinch bugs to become established, and it’s also harder to subsequently evict them.
Chinch Bug Control
The first step to how to get rid of chinch bugs is to get a good chinch bug killer. Chinch bug insecticides include the most common permethrin-based sprays and pellets.
You’ll have the best results if you use these at low concentrations and keep the pesticides confined to the areas of your lawn with the highest concentrations of chinch bugs. Poke around in an area of grass that you suspect is infected with chinch bugs to see where there are the most.
When you apply pesticides to your lawn, you should also remember that it is easier for the pesticides to kill chinch bug nymphs than it is for it to kill adult chinch bugs.
Nymphs may be killed on contact with a blade of grass that has been dusted with pesticides, whereas chinch bug adults will need to consume the grass itself before being killed by the poison.
You should also plant grasses that are endophyte-friendly. Endophytes are fungi that are beneficial for grasses and detrimental to chinch bugs.
You should be careful when planting endophyte-enhances grasses, however. Livestock may be harmed by consuming the fungi because of the endotoxins which they produce.
If all else fails, one reliable way how to get rid of chinch bugs is to hire professional help. Professional pest controllers will know how to get rid of chinch bugs without harming your lawn, your pets, or beneficial pollinators that share the same space.
Most professional chinch bug assessments are relatively quick and inexpensive. You’ll find that you don’t need to spend as much time in the garden fighting the chinch bug infestation when you have a robust professional on your side.
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