Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

August Landscapes – The Chinch Bug Cometh!


Recommended Posts

image.jpeg.b5450ba39805929f2def69117da6db41.jpeg

The Chinch Bug Cometh!

Devastating insect thrives on your lawn during extreme heat, dry conditions

There is a quiet crisis taking place in Texas lawns. Its quiet because most folks have no idea why their lawns are slowly turning brown.

Most assume it’s related to the extreme heat we’ve seen over the past two months. In a way yes, in a way, no. The heat is causing it because Chinch bugs thrive in high-heat, dry conditions. But grass does fine in heat, as long as it gets proper watering.

You cannot explain away why one square foot of turf can be perfectly green while right next to it, browning turf. That tells you its not a heat problem and its not a sprinkler problem.

What is taking place is really pretty predictable. Chinch bugs, which pose a challenge to Texas lawns each and every year, are thriving right now because climate conditions here make that possible this summer. Chinch bugs are very small, hard to see with the naked eye. They feed on the moisture in your turf until that moisture is gone. You’ll find their damage in the hottest spots of the lawn, where full sun is abundant and commonly next to concrete, metal or stone where it heats up even more because those materials radiate the heat they absorb.

Sick creatures, really, for that reason alone. Lol

For this reason (heat), we commonly see their appearance from mid to late summer. They appeared earlier this year because June was filled with 100-degree heat, paving the way for their early emergence.

image.jpeg.23e287b0f88b9772c48ef75f1835e4c1.jpeg

Chinch bug damage, above

Their damage can be extensive, many times consuming an entire lawn within a few short weeks. They will feed on any type of lawn whether it be St Augustine, Zoysia or Bermuda. Bermuda is the only one of those three which is native to our area, so Bermuda tends to rebound much better than the other two. With Zoysia or St Augustine, you may have to consider re-sodding the damaged areas once summer is over.

The damage you can observe shows that this is so bad that will rival that of the summer of 1980. Almost every neighborhood in the Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex has a chinch problem.

image.thumb.jpeg.d2c1dc7309917e8218f1f0575711ac77.jpeg

 

What is a Chinch bug? How do I know I have them?

Chinch bugs are hard to spot using the naked eye. Fully grown adult specimens will only be 3/16 inches long. You can spot them in suspected chinch activity areas by using a magnifying glass – or – knock out both ends of a coffee can, tap into the ground by about 1/4 inch, and fill can with soapy water. Whatever chinch bugs are in that small area will float to the top of the soapy water.

image.jpeg.be42df391d05b7e466233751b3212f52.jpeg

The coffee can with soapy water method is an easy way to detect Chinch Bugs.

You can also use a small vacuum cleaner, running it over an area that looks to be suffering from Chinch bugs. Once you do a square foot or so, empty the contents of the vacuum onto a cloth. You should be able to observe any Chinch bugs the vacuum picked up.

But Chinch bugs are easiest to detect by the damage they create. In St Augustine lawns in particular, you will notice that an area of the lawn slowly stops growing while surrounded by grass that keeps growing. This is early stage Chinch infestation. Slowly a brown area will appear as the Chinch extract the moisture from the grass plants. They prefer to feed on the base of the grass where lateral runners/stolons commonly sprout from.

Adult Chinch bugs are black with white wings and each wing has a triangular mark at the edges. Younger Chinch have a reddish-orange or almost bronze hue, have white stripes, and don’t have wings.

The dead spots that begin to appear in the lawn occur when there are at least 25 or more Chinch bugs at work in that area.

image.thumb.png.f1dd98c91162a19c0ec0a660c88ce410.png

What do I do to stop them?

A commonly used insecticide chemical – Bifenythryn, is what most use to kill the Chinch bugs. It is best used in liquid form so that it can be sprayed onto the turf from above the surface. Granualar products work from the surface of the soil, not on the blades where the Chinch Bugs are often found. So the liquid treatment is the most effective.

If you are not confident in your ability to do this, please seek the help of a professional.

Chemical control of Chinch bugs is the fastest way to eradicate them. Bifenyrthryn is a “contact kill” chemical, meaning the wet product must come into contact with the target insect or it won’t work. This is another reason the liquid spray works so well. Once the product has dried, it is no longer effective.

Always follow the instructions on the labels of the chemicals you use. Understand that you may have to treat your lawn several times if your neighbors’ lawns also have this issue and because there may have been eggs that will hatch.

Chinch bugs can be spread by lawn mowers. Lawn services will transport them from lawn to lawn inside their mower wells, if they fail to blow out those mower wells after each mow. A homeowner who only mows his own lawn can spread them to different parts of the lawn the same way. The spinning blade in the mower well creates a vacuum, sucking the Chinch bug up from beneath the blade level.

 

Is there an organic option?

Diatomaceous Earth is one method that will kill them. It is made from ground up fossil material and has sharp, microscopic particles which will pierce the bodies of most insects. All they have to do is touch it in some way for it to become effective. Application is not easy. You would need to spread it across the damaged area and at least a 10-inch perimeter of the damaged area.

DE kills insects by dehydrating them slowly over 1-3 days.

DE that is left behind is effective until it is made wet by sprinklers or rain. Buy food-grade DE, not swimming pool grade. Its safe for humans and pets to be around.

Get good advice

The most common and unfortunately fatal mistake is when a homeowner mis-diagnoses his Chinch problem. Some will say its just heat stress on the lawn. One person I know was told it was lawn fungus. Lawn fungus doesn’t become a problem until Fall, when our nights become longer and cooler and our days grow shorter. But with 100-degree temperatures and literally no humidity, there’s just no chance of it happening.

So they are led to treat issues (or not) that aren’t in play and still lose their lawn investment. Seek advice from the right people, those who work with turf a lot.

 

How do Chinch bugs find my lawn?

They will commonly enter your lawn from another nearby lawn. But the biggest factor is when your lawn is in distress. Your lawn becomes distressed, for example, when you are mowing the lawn too short in high heat conditions. The blade must be raised to at least 3.5 to 4 inches during summer. Predator insects pick up on the distress and flock to the location.

Dull mower blades will also cause stress. Make sure your blade is always sharp and never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade when you mow.

An abundance of thatch in the lawn can also cause predator insects to come. If your thatch has become thick, simply spread some compost over it to get it broken down (and feed the lawn at the same time).

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good info. I've never had a cinch bug problem but I dont really care what happens to st augustine grass that creep into the yard.  I try to push bermuda and buffalo grass; both are still doing well and have only watered grass once this summer so far. 

Different Situation: my mature Burr Oak seems to be sweating a lot of sap from the leaves; more than usual. I assumed it was from the extra month of 100 degree weather. this morning I had dozens of honey bees on my car sucking up the sap. I was at an auction Saturday in Austin and was talking to an older gentleman. He insisted that the sap was due to an insect infestation.  I havent noticed any insect infestation; matter of fact, I havent even seen any "gals" this year that normally infest some of the leaves (I understand the gals are relatively harmless but just noted as an aside).  the sap is so bad this year I'm going to have to wash my vehicles and put tarps on them and they are not directly under the tree. 

Q: Is excessive Burr Oak sap due to heat stress or insect infestation?  if it is due to insects, do you know what type of insects would cause this?  if so, do I need to water-wash the tree and leaves with soapy water?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, Soldierhorn said:

Good info. I've never had a cinch bug problem but I dont really care what happens to st augustine grass that creep into the yard.  I try to push bermuda and buffalo grass; both are still doing well and have only watered grass once this summer so far. 

Different Situation: my mature Burr Oak seems to be sweating a lot of sap from the leaves; more than usual. I assumed it was from the extra month of 100 degree weather. this morning I had dozens of honey bees on my car sucking up the sap. I was at an auction Saturday in Austin and was talking to an older gentleman. He insisted that the sap was due to an insect infestation.  I havent noticed any insect infestation; matter of fact, I havent even seen any "gals" this year that normally infest some of the leaves (I understand the gals are relatively harmless but just noted as an aside).  the sap is so bad this year I'm going to have to wash my vehicles and put tarps on them and they are not directly under the tree. 

Q: Is excessive Burr Oak sap due to heat stress or insect infestation?  if it is due to insects, do you know what type of insects would cause this?  if so, do I need to water-wash the tree and leaves with soapy water?

 

Soldierhorn, you need to check the undersides of the leaves on your Oak. You may have Oak leaf Aphids. So the sap you are seeing can very well be the secretion of an Oak Leaf Aphid.

The sugary secretion of the aphids is called "honey dew" and is just as sticky as sap.

Oak trees do not naturally drip sap. 

Oak trees can leak sap if they have "slime flux" or aka "wet wood." It is a bacterial growth in the tree which causes enough pressure to force the sap out of the tree. If this is the case, then your sappy residue will have a yeast-like smell and would be leaking out of the trunk.

My bet is that you have Oak Leaf Aphids.

You will need to spray the tree as thoroughly as you can using a product that has Bifenyrthryn in it. Spray twice, the second time being 1-1.5 weeks after first spray. The chemical kills the insects but not the eggs, hence the need for the second spray.

You only need to spray the leaves (especially the undersides of the leaves) as this is where the aphids live and feed.

This is serious. They can take your tree out.

BTW, your Bermuda will get Chinch bugs just as fast as St Augustine will. The damage they inflict is done faster on Bermuda.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been asked by a few why plants, trees, shrubs, and even turf is having such a hard time this year. I explain the heat is creating a real problem and plants, like people, go into survival mode in this heat. So growth is something that happens when its not threatened by the heat.

To provide you with a comparison to the last two summers . . . 

2022 – 11 days in June over 100. 28 days in July over 100. Eleven of those days were between 105 and 111. First day over 100 was June 11.

2021 – 8 days total over 100 for the summer. Highest temperature was 102. First day over 100 was July 25.

2020 – 9 days total over 100 for the summer. 

2022 has now had 40 days over 100 degrees in DFW. We still have 29 days of August to consider and also a few days likely in September. So this summer has the potential to compare to the summers of 2011 and 1980. 

We could potentially surpass 70 days of 100 degree heat this year. By comparison, in 2011 we had 71 days of 100 degrees and in 1980, we had 69 days of 100 degree temperatures.

Both 2011 and 1980 are considered historically record setting heat years for the DFW Metroplex.

 

https://www.weather.gov/fwd/d100data

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Baron said:

I remember 1980. Garza Little Elm had the water recede over 100 yards from the bank. It was almost apocalyptic.

I remember 2011 here in Lewisville where we have Lake Lewisville. It was way down by about 18 ft. They stopped letting boats on the water. Boats in marinas were grounded if they were left there.

At this point, the lake is only a few feet down. Fortunately, the area NW of the Metroplex has had more rain than we have since Fall. Thats where the trinity forms and comes down to feed Lake Lewisville before going through Dallas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Sirhornsalot said:

I remember 2011 here in Lewisville where we have Lake Lewisville. It was way down by about 18 ft. They stopped letting boats on the water. Boats in marinas were grounded if they were left there.

At this point, the lake is only a few feet down. Fortunately, the area NW of the Metroplex has had more rain than we have since Fall. Thats where the trinity forms and comes down to feed Lake Lewisville before going through Dallas.

Lake Lewisville used to be called Garza Little Elm back in the dark ages. Partied my ass off there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Baron said:

Lake Lewisville used to be called Garza Little Elm back in the dark ages. Partied my ass off there.

Didn't know that. I knew it was going to be called Lake Dallas at one point (a nearby town was founded under that name) but was changed to Lake Lewisville, and is now officially called Lewisville Lake. City of Lake Dallas has been ticked ever since. lol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, UT1983 said:

Unrelated topic:

ok to pull poison ivy wearing gloves and long sleeves?   Have some taking over the bushes in my landscaping. 

Yes, but throw those gloves and sleeves away when you're done. Also, wear a bandana over your face and shades or glasses over your eyes, hat on your head.

That said, you really need to kill the poison ivy before you pull it. Otherwise, it will come right back.

What I do is create a cut in the vine, about 2 ft from the ground. I put my poison on a cotton rag and wrap around the cut I made. This sends the poison in both directions (up the vine and down to the roots). Wait until it dies, then pull it. YOU STILL NEED PROTECTION REMOVING DEAD POISON IVY. The oil is still there.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark

I believe you said to put down first pre-emergent in August.  I have never tried to combine different chemicals when spraying.  I would like to add some msm truf and quinclorac.  I believe both are considered safe being added.  Is it too late in the year for such a solution?

thanks in advance (quinclorac is to kill some encroaching st augustine)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, gmcc said:

Mark

I believe you said to put down first pre-emergent in August.  I have never tried to combine different chemicals when spraying.  I would like to add some msm truf and quinclorac.  I believe both are considered safe being added.  Is it too late in the year for such a solution?

thanks in advance (quinclorac is to kill some encroaching st augustine)

Yes, between now and the end of the month. 

You should read the labeling about combining chemicals. For example, I like to mix a liquid product with a powder product in spraying weeds. However, I have to mix the powder product in the tank first and create several gallons before I introduce the liquid product. The powder has yet to become the product until water is added to combine the chemicals in it whereas they were separated when in powder form.

Make sense?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, HornSports Staff said:

The Chinch Bug kicked some a$$ all over Texas.  Thanks Mark for all the advice!

Thank you for giving me the forum to do this!

The Chinch issue isn't over yet. We will get a reprieve with the rain and cooler temperatures. Conditions like that slow them down significantly. But when temperatures go back into the upper 90s they will begin feeding again.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

Our Affiliation

USATDP_Logo.png

Quick Links

×
×
  • Create New...