Tiny pests cause millions of dollars in turf grass damage annually
Female deposits over 250 eggs in her lifetime
May travel over 400 feet in under an hour
Chinch bugs are pests of turf and pasture grass throughout the southern U.S., with scattered infestations in the western states. These tiny pests, measuring approximately 6 mm in length, cause millions of dollars in turf grass damage annually. Adults are black with shiny white wings.
The chinch bug is characterized by half wings, piercing-sucking mouthparts with which they suck plant juices, and a three-stage life cycle that proceeds from eggs to nymphs to adults. Adult chinch bugs overwinter in protected places in and around turf grass, then emerge from hibernation in the spring to mate, followed in about two weeks by laying their eggs in leaf sheaths and grass roots. The female chinch bug deposits over 250 eggs on average in her lifetime. Eggs hatch into nymphs, which begin feeding immediately, and go through five instars, each one larger and more similar to the adult than the previous one.
Though they are capable of flight, chinch bug populations tend to move from lawn to lawn within a neighborhood by walking, leaving a heavily infested areas in search of a fresh area to feed. As they move, the population may cover over 400 feet in under an hour. As they feed, chinch bugs suck the sap from the grass until it withers and dies.
Integrated pest management—including proper fertilization, irrigation, and mowing along with pest control—is recommended to reduce the potential of chinch bug infestations on turf grass.