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How to Treat Chinch Bugs in Lawns

How to Treat Chinch Bugs in Lawns

Chinch bugs can be a menace to deal with when you’re trying to grow your lawn. Chinch bug damage causes your lawn to look brown and untidy. However, knowing how to treat chinch bugs in lawns with the right eradication methods, you get a healthy-looking lawn again.

Ortho lawn insect killer is a good solution for getting rid of chinch bugs. You can use soap as an alternative to pesticides if you don’t want to use chemicals. Cultural treating methods such as avoiding too much nitrogen fertilizers and frequently watering your lawn are great methods to treat chinch bugs in lawns. Biological control methods are also effective against pests.

How Do You Spot the Chinch Bugs?

Before you know how to treat chinch bugs, you need to know their appearance. When these lawn bugs are young, they are red, but they turn black as they grow older.

Adults have white wings folded across their backs and are about 1/4 inch long. Chinch bugs take roughly 4 to 6 weeks to mature and adults have a white dot on their back.

How to Treat Chinch Bugs in Lawns

1. Using pesticides

If the bug infestation in your lawn is over 15 sq ft, you might want to consider insecticide treatment. To eliminate chinch bugs, you can treat your grass with various granular and liquid insecticides. Ortho lawn insect killer works well against chinch bug infestations.

You can also use Scotts Grub Killer, which contains trichlorfon. You spread the granules in early spring and it is effective against a severe infestation of chinch bugs. Make sure you read the label carefully before purchasing or applying a pesticide to your lawn.

How do you apply the pesticide in lawns affected with chinch bugs?

Pesticides kill chinch bugs but not their eggs.

Some products require two applications: one to kill current bugs and a second, many weeks later, to kill any chinch bugs hatched from eggs laid before the first application.

Other pesticides provide time-released protection that can last up to three months in the lawn, effectively killing any existing chinch bugs right away and then killing any chinch bugs that hatch later.

2. Using Insecticidal Soap

Soap kills chinch bugs by disrupting their cell metabolism and dissolving the waxy coating they retain in their bodily fluids. It’s better to buy a bar of commercial insecticidal soap than to make your own.

Insecticidal soap will harm only the chinch bugs without affecting plants since it only dissolves the waxy coating on the bugs. A handmade soap spray damages the waxy covering on plant leaves and stems that protects them.

Also read: Bermuda grass selective herbicide

3. Cultural Methods

a.  Frequently Water Your Lawn

Dry lawns are chinch bugs’ favorite breeding grounds as they increase the survival rate of eggs and nymphs. Dry grass and lawns are more vulnerable to chinch bug damage than well-watered lawns.

Apply enough water to saturate the soil profile roughly 6 inches deep whenever possible, and let it dry before you water again. Make sure you’re not overwatering your lawn to prevent flooding.

Also read: How do you fix a yard that doesn’t drain?

b. Reduce on Fertilizer Usage

Chinch bugs increase in lawns as the nitrogen content increases. Lawns that receive slow-release nitrogen fertilizers have fewer chinch bugs and suffer minor damage than lawns that receive highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers.

The chinch bugs also attract delicate top growth created by too much nitrogen fertilizer. Make sure you’re not overdoing nitrogen fertilizers in your lawn to prevent an increase in chinch bugs.

c. Aerate the lawn by removing thatch

Most chinch bugs grow in thatch. Thatch is a thick mat of dead grass that grows at the base of the blades. Thatch stops air and sunshine from reaching the grass blade’s bottom, weakening the lawn’s general health.

Removing thatch thus allows air and water to penetrate into the soil. This in turn rejuvenates your grass, making it thicker and stronger.

Removing thatch will eliminate the hibernation sites for the chinch bugs.

Also read: Best professional lawn aerator

d. Control How You Mow Your Lawn

Eliminating more than one-third of the grass blade leads to build-up of thatch that harbors chinch bugs.

When you mow your lawn every so often, the build-up of dead grass becomes too much for soil microbes to decompose, therefore leading to thatch.

During growing season, you should mow your lawn at least once a week, to maintain proper height.

If you have a thatch build-up, you can mow your lawn vertically to remove it.

3. Biological Control Methods

Chinch bugs have many natural enemies, including other insects. You can use these predatory insects to get rid of chinch bugs in lawns. These insects include

  • Big-eyed bugs
  • Minute pirate bugs
  • Spiders
  • Wasps
  • Ants

The tiny wasp feeds on chinch bug eggs, preventing them from hatching under ideal conditions. You can also try attracting big predators like songbirds to feed on the chinch bugs in your lawn.

New kinds of insect-pathogenic fungi are now being identified and tested for chinch bug management. Biological control methods are effective for lawn owners that want to avoid using chemicals.

4. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is dust made from fossilized algae. Its minuscule particles are razor sharp and will penetrate the bodies of insects that come into touch with it.

Dichotomous earth is also a desiccant; it causes bugs that come into touch with it to dehydrate and die, usually within a few days.

To see if this dust has worked, cut the top and bottom of a coffee can and press it firmly into the ground near the edge of a yellowing spot. Fill the can with water and keep an eye on it.

Chinch bugs will ascend to the top, allowing you to determine if they are dead or alive. Re-treat the lawn with dichotomous earth and re-test in a few days if moving bugs are discovered.

How do you spot a lawn infested with chinch bugs?

Lawns infested with chinch bugs appear to be drought-stricken. Drought damage causes a uniformly brown spot, whereas chinch bugs leave mottled yellow or brown patches with clumps of unaffected grass in between.

The lawn damage is most visible near the lawn’s edges, particularly building foundations, driveways, and other heat-emitting surfaces.

In the grass, look for chinch bugs and their nymphs, which are brilliant red with a white stripe. Slowly move your foot through the grass to see if any chinch bugs have crawled over your shoe.

You can split the grass with your fingers and search for the bugs near the grassroots. Chinch bugs aren’t just a nuisance for your grass; they can lead to the death of your lawn.

If chinch bugs are not treated promptly, they can kill your lawn.

Chinch bug damage will make your lawn look untidy.

However, once you eliminate the chinch bugs from your lawn, the lawn will heal itself naturally. Use the methods explained above on how to treat chinch bugs in lawns.

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