7 Things to Know About Southern Chinch Bugs
The southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis, is a common turfgrass pest in the Southeast. Without question, its preferred meal of choice is St. Augustine grass, but it has been known to feed on other grass varieties including zoysia and centipede.
Florida is, by far, its favorite locale. However, this southern variety of chinch bug can also be found ruining lawns from Texas to North Carolina.
Colorful but still small enough to often go unnoticed, chinch bugs tend to gather on sunny open patches of grass. Immature chinch bugs, or nymphs, are bright orange in color with a white band on the abdomen during the first two instars (stages of development). The third and fourth instars are a darker red; the fifth instar is black. Adults are black with shiny white wings of varying sizes.
Adult and immature chinch bugs suck sap from the victim plant that is ‘hosting’ them. As they feed, a toxin is injected into the grass causing it to turn yellow and eventually die.
Grass under stress from drought or heat surrenders to the pest far more easily. Chinch bugs love lush, heavily fertilized grass and prefer grass that boasts a heavy thatch layer. Chinch bugs are not big fans of moisture.
First infestations are most often very spotty. Given time to flourish however, chinch bugs will destroy large areas of grass quickly and decisively. Action must be taken or an entire lawn can be lost.
Insecticide treatments are usually required when populations reach 20–25 per square foot. Chinch bugs have already outsmarted some treatments resulting in the development of new, more effective approaches.
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