Chinch bug is a common type of bug in Eastern Canada. With their piercing-sucking mouth parts, they feed on the sap of grass plants.
Chinch bugs are black with a white spot on their back between their wing pads. Adult chinch bugs have white wings folded over their backs, and are 4 mm (.16 inches) in length. The immature chinch bug (the nymph) is bright red with distinctive white bands across the back. As it matures, its colouring will change from orange to brown, and finally black. Nymphs do not have wings.
In the Maritimes (and most of eastern Canada and the northeastern USA), chinch bug damage is not seen before July, so the time of year in which damage is first observed provides the first clue on whether it is due to chinch bug. . As more chinch bugs hatch and feed, homeowners will notice scattered patches of grass beginning to wilt on warm, dry slopes and near pavement edges. Because the damage they cause is similar to natural drought effects, small infestations often go unnoticed. If left untreated, chinch bugs may destroy entire yards.
Chinch prefer hot, dry, south-facing slopes 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. Patches of lawn destroyed by chinch bugs will appear in July or August and spread over the summer. Additionally, the pests can be identified by the strong, unpleasant odour they give off when crushed. Lawns that smell after being mowed or walked on may be infested.
Chinch bugs like poorly tended lawns with compacted soils, accumulations of thatch, and a lack of moisture or an excess of nitrogen. Maintaining your lawn properly will discourage infestations and improve tolerance to damage. Some helpful practices include the following:
If replanting grass, choose an insect-resistant, endophytic variety of tall fescue or rye grass (endophytes are naturally occurring fungi that kill lawn pests, including chinch bugs). Aerate the lawn in spring to reduce soil compaction. Remove thick layers of thatch (organic debris on the surface of the soil) in the fall. Keep in mind that some thatch may be needed to prevent winterkill in cold regions. Do not over-fertilize, since this will encourage greater insect activity. Use water-insoluble or slow-release nitrogen fertilizers. Using 1 kg of nitrogen per 100 m2 should be enough for most lawns.
Water the lawn thoroughly (but not more than once a week) during the summer. Keep soil moist to a depth of 6 to 8 cm. Do not cut the grass too short. A length of 6 to 7.5 cm will help avoid stressing the grass. Add agricultural limestone when the soil pH is below 6.5. All the experts agree that improving soil quality is the long term key to eliminating insect problems in lawns. Chinch bugs are much more likely to be a problem in chemically treated lawns, or lawns making a transition from chemicals to natural, than in naturally treated lawns.
All the experts agree that improving soil quality is the long term key to eliminating insect problems in lawns. Chinch bugs are much more likely to be a problem in chemically treated lawns, or lawns making a transition from chemicals to natural, than in naturally treated lawns.