Pest Control

7 Methods to Eliminate Chinch Bugs and Treat Damaged Areas

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While normally chinch bugs shouldn’t cause a lot of damage to your lawn, certain environmental conditions such as drought can cause a more severe infestation of this pest. The bugs can breed fast and eat up large patches of grass creating an unhealthy look of your yard. Getting chinch bugs under control and restoring the lush beauty of the lawn can be difficult unless you follow the correct pest removal methods.

How To Identify Chinch Bugs?

Chinch bugs are found in most regions of the US but can cause more serious damage in some areas such as Texas. The first step when it comes to chinch bug pest control is to figure out whether this is the insect you’re dealing with. Adult bugs can have distinctive appearance characteristics depending on the species. Common chinch bugs are typically small and slender-looking with bodies showing off red and black color combinations.

Other species like the southern chinch bug have smaller bodies with a distinctive triangular black mark. When it comes to their favorite types of grass to feed on, chinch bugs tend to prefer warm-season species like bentgrass or Kentucky bluegrass. Identifying the bug is important but it’s also helpful to check the damage signs that could indicate the presence of the pest.

Dehydrated dead patches of grass could signal that you have a chinch bug problem. These pest infestations can cause damage to the lawn in a similar way to drought. Making the distinction involves looking for irregular patches of dead grass that are usually yellow or brown. You might spot dying chinch bugs close by. Keep in mind that it’s more likely to deal with a severe infestation in sunny locations of the lawn when it’s particularly hot outside.

Chinch Bug Habits

Adult chinch bugs are not active during the cold season. Their reproductive season kicks off once the weather starts to warm in the spring. The rate of breeding starts to increase in hot, dry weather which can also affect the natural predators of the bug. These factors add up and result in an out-of-control chinch bug population that can devastate your lawn. The grass is killed not just because the bugs suck out its natural fluids. Further damage is caused due to the pest’s toxic saliva.

Chinch Bug Elimination Methods

There are different approaches you can take to manage chinch bugs in your lawn. Aside from getting rid of an ongoing infestation, it’s also worth trying out some better lawn care practices to prevent the problem in the future.

1. Use a Broad-Spectrum Pesticide

A simple and practical solution to consider is getting a pesticide that works against chinch bugs. Many turf-type products are usually designed to kill a wide variety of damaging insects including chinch bugs. Consider getting a reliable broad-spectrum pesticide such as this model from Bonide on Amazon. Using this removal method may not be a very straightforward process. Some pesticides require mowing or watering the lawn before applying them to ensure proper effectiveness.

Although chemical pesticides are reliable when it comes to destroying adult bugs, they may be ineffective against their eggs. For that reason, it’s possible that you will need to reapply the product after some time to eliminate the new hatchlings. Some more advanced pesticides can provide extended protection as they persist on the surface of the lawn destroying newer generations of chinch bugs without requiring a new application.

2. Consider Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth powder can work very well as a pest control solution if you favor a chemical-free approach. The powdery particles of this natural product will damage the body of the insects stepping onto them. Another great effect is the dehydration ability of diatomaceous earth that ensures the complete elimination of any pesky chinch bugs in your yard.

Applying diatomaceous earth powder can be a little difficult if you have a large area to cover. Make sure to reapply the product if you still discover chinch bugs close to the edge of browning spots on the lawn. Residual diatomaceous earth can persist for some time but it’s recommended to apply the powder again after a few weeks to feel confident that your chinch bug problem is gone. Check out the Safer diatomaceous earth insect killer on Amazon.

3. Dethatch The Lawn

Excessive thatch on your lawn can encourage a population boost for chinch bugs. This is why dethatching should be part of the care routine of anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy lawn. Other control methods such as applying pesticides can also take advantage of dethatching to increase their effectiveness. Thatch refers to dead grass or other decayed plant materials that can be used by chinch bugs as shelter.

With the help of a lawnmower or a specialized dethatcher machine, you can remove the unsightly layer of dead grass and manage a troublesome chinch bug infestation. Preventing thatch buildup in the first place is even better. This is usually caused by infrequent mowing of the lawn. If you’re interested in optimal turfgrass health, it’s safe to say that you need to work on mowing the yard at least once a week.

If you think excessive thatch represents an important contributor to your chinch bug problem, it could be worth digging deeper into this issue. Lawn aeration can be another reliable solution for taking better care of your lawn and reducing the level of thatch. By punching holes in the turf, you will essentially resolve more serious thatch problems by improving microbial decay as you allow water and air to penetrate. The job can be tackled with the help of dedicated machines called lawn aerators. Together with a thin layer of compost, you can say goodbye to any thatch buildup issues on your lawn.

4. Don’t Use Too Much Fertilizer

If you’re trying to control chinch bugs in your lawn, it’s essential to make the grass in your yard as unappealing as possible for the insects. When adding excessive fertilizer, there’s a risk of boosting the attractiveness of the grass to be used as a food source by the pests. This is especially the case if the lawn is situated in a sunny location. Keep fertilization to a minimum such as around 3 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. Stick to organic fertilizers that don’t release nitrogen as fast, which can exacerbate chinch bug problems.

5. Keep a Balanced Watering Schedule

Although chinch bug infestations are not directly caused by improper watering, it’s highly recommended to watch out for signs of drought stress. Insufficient water can make matters worse when it comes to this pest. At the same time, too much watering can hurt the natural thatch recycling process. Chinch bugs thrive in dry environments so it’s best to try maintaining a balanced watering schedule to ensure the health of your lawn.

Damage Recovery Methods

Once chinch bugs are removed from the lawn, you are still left with some empty spots on the lawn. Depending on the severity of your chinch bug infestation, you might have to make use of some recovery methods to face the pest damage. Taking better care of your lawn will prevent future problems with this bug. Check out some recommended ways to restore the lush beauty of your grass.

6. Reseed The Bare Patches

Reseeding could be necessary for many situations after you’ve dealt with the pest. You can start the process right after the first application of the pesticide. Pick a more resistant variety of grass that’s not as vulnerable to insect damage and diseases. You should try endophyte-enhanced grass seeds that work well for various types of lawns. By using this opportunity to reseed with stronger grasses, you will prevent future lawn problems.

7. Mow The Lawn Carefully

We’ve already mentioned the importance of mowing the lawn more frequently to reduce the amount of thatch. Another relevant aspect to speed up the recovery after a chinch bug infestation is to pay attention to the way you’re mowing the lawn. Make sure you cut just a third of the grass blade to avoid stressing the yard. Similar to watering, maintaining a good balance is key to mowing the lawn as well. It ensures that the grass won’t become vulnerable to pests such as chinch bugs.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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