Our technicians are finding adult chinch bugs emerging from thatch as well as their young, commonly called ‘nymphs’. We started finding them earlier in June which is earlier than we normally see them appearing. The hot, dry weather is to blame. Adult chinch bugs emerge, mate and lay eggs when the ‘bird’s foot trefoil’ weed is in flower. The nymphs which cause the most damage hatch over several weeks.
Chinch bugs are arguably one of the most common insect pests on home lawns. What the early appearance of adults means for this year’s chinch populations isn’t clear yet. It is the immature, reddish in colour, chinch bug nymph that damages lawns, and an early start on adult activity may mean more young are born. On the other hand, if temperatures and rain return to seasonable levels, the red nymphs may suffer some degree of natural abatement.
Are you seeing fist-sized brown spots? Is most of the damage on the south-facing part of your lawn? Are the damaged spots growing together?
Since we can’t predict how heavy chinch activity is going to be we count on you to be vigilant – watch your lawn for the signs and let us know when they appear, so that remedial steps can be taken.
Here is a photograph from last year of an infested lawn. This hill faces south, and you can see the characteristic damage of small patches that will eventually meld together. Chinch bugs suck the juices out of the grass blade and inject a venom toxic to the leaf blade, resulting in the death of the grass blade. Roots are normally unharmed, but will quickly die if the lawn is not well watered. Water heavily to help areas recover quickly!
You can also look for the bugs themselves, but chinch bugs are tiny. Kyle’s thumb dwarfs them in this photo. The blue circle shows an adult, and the red circle shows a grass-damaging nymph, or immature chinch bug. They live right down at the base of the grass, and the only way to find them, really, is to get your nose right down into the grass. They scurry for cover quickly, so watch for movement.