If your St. Augustine lawn looks like it is in severe need of water, you may have a chinch bug problem. Although St. Augustine grass is not as common north of Atlanta due to cold susceptibility, it is a favorite food for chinch bugs all over the South. For homeowner’s already gambling with the risk of cold affecting their lawn, chinch bugs are a pest that can create additional obstacles to this thick-bladed beautifully-colored grass.
It is unlikely that you will notice Chinch Bugs roaming around your yard. Furthermore, your yard may be suffering from the effects of drought, so don’t assume these nasty critters have already moved in. Instead, cut the bottom of a can, and insert the metal tube into your lawn. Fill the can with water, and repeat for 5 minutes. If there are chinch bugs, they will float to the top. Test multiple areas, as chinch bugs do not uniformly disperse across a lawn.
Adult chinch bugs have a black body and white wings with a black spot on the edge of each wing. They are about 6 mm long and have two types: long-winged and short-winged. The nymphs are typically red with a white band across its belly.
There are insecticides available to help end and prevent infestations, but they don’t always work. Chinch bugs have at times developed resistance to these chemicals. This can make controlling chinch bugs with insecticides expensive and detrimental to your yard’s ecosystem.
Chinch bugs’ natural predators include the bigeyed bug, fire ants, and the earwig. Introducing natural predators to chinch bug populations has not been proven to be very effective, not to mention these predators are another type of pest.
Chinch bug-tolerant St. Augustine:
Possibly the best method to getting rid of chinch bugs is to not plant St. Augustine grass, but there are types of St. Augustine that have been developed to tolerate chinch bugs and limit the damage caused by these pests.
The limited efficacy of eliminating chinch bug problems shows why they are such a problem. The best control method is to maintain the grass properly. The height of St. Augustine should be 3 to 4 inches, and it should be mowed frequently, so the grass is never injured by mowing more than 1/3 of the blade. A sharp lawnmower blade will make the blades less susceptible to damage and chinch bug outbreaks. Also, nitrogen fertilizer can increase growth to an extent that chinch bugs will prefer your lawn, so keep fertilizer under control with water-soluble or time-release applications.
Chinch bugs can become a very big problem for homeowners with St. Augustine grass, and if you are living north of Atlanta, it may be time to consider a change. Otherwise, proper maintenance of your lawn can help to prevent infestation.
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