Chinch Bug Control

Chinch Bug Control

Adult chinch bugs are almost 3/16-inch long, have black bodies and fully developed wings that appear frosty-white except for distinctive triangular black patch-like markings at the middles of the outer margins. Adults appear as either long-winged or short-winged forms. Newly hatched nymphs appear orange red with a pale whitish band across their abdomens. As they molt through five growth stages (instars), nymphs gradually change color from red to orange to black and develop wing pads as they develop.

Size Compared to a common pin head

Chinch bugs are most damaging to St. Augustine grass. You may see them on grasses such as Zoysia, Bermuda, and centipede, but infestations usually occur where high populations have built up on St. Augustine grass.

Chinch bug activity occurs from March through November in warm season grasses and is year-round in deep south areas. It is estimated that 3 to 10 generations with overlapping life stages develop each year depending on winter temperatures.  New damage may appear by May or June, depending on spring temperatures, and any damage that existed in late fall will become apparent in the spring. Chinch bugs have become immune to almost every pesticide used to control them. They were even resistant to DDT in the early 1950s.  The newer insecticides chinch bugs have not yet developed immunity to will likely kill most nymphs and adults, but the eggs will survive, nymphs will hatch, and the infestation will continue. Thus, damage may become visible again within 2 -3 months of treatment. Encroachment from neighboring lawns is also a possibility.

Moderate Damage

Intermediate Damage

Extreme Damage

In turfgrass areas, injury typically appears as yellow or dead drought-stressed or heat-stressed spots in the yard, most commonly in July and August. Infestations are usually initially localized because chinch bugs feed in mass. Injured plants occur in spots or patches that enlarge as the population increases and spreads. When infested host plants die, high numbers of chinch bugs migrate by walking to neighboring lawns or turf areas in search of suitable host plants.


A flotation technique can be used to detect infestations. Cut both ends out of a metal can and push one end 2-3 inches into the soil on green or yellowing grass (not dead grass). Slowly fill with water and count the number of chinch bugs that float to the top within 5 minutes. Keep the water level above the grass surface. If nothing emerges in the first area, examine at least 3 or 4 other areas.

Cultural Control

Cultural practices may influence the susceptibility of St. Augustine grass to chinch bug damage Rapid growth resulting from frequent applications of water soluble nitrogen fertilizers may increase southern chinch bug survival, development time, and the number of eggs that can be laid rather than help plants outgrow any damage. Responsible use of organic slow-release nitrogen fertilizers may help reduce pest population build-up.

Excessive watering, fertilizing, and/or fungicide use can cause lawn grasses to develop a thick thatch layer. Insecticide treatments can also bind to the thatch layer, instead of reaching soil-dwelling pests.

The biggest mistake someone can make is to assume that the turf is hungry and needs fertilizer or thirsty and needs water. Water and fertilizer intensifies the attack of the chinch bug.

Organic Chinch Bug Control

Chemical pesticides have proven ineffective for the control of chinch bugs due to their propensity to become quickly immune to them.  Organic or natural control is nature’s way.

Encourage natural chinch bug predators such as birds by placing a bird bath on the property.  Other beneficial insects such a the preying mantis, the paper wasp and ants greatly reduce chinch bug populations.

Increase the Brix value of the turf.  The higher the Brix value, the higher the sugar content. Therefore, the higher the Brix value of your grass, the more likely it is that insects will not be feasting on your lawn (if they do, they will die trying). In fact, a Brix value of 12 or higher is all it takes to eliminate most insect infestations of any plant, including a lawn. Brix values for many grasses can reach values well over 30. A liver is necessary to digest sugar. If an insect, which does not have a liver, ingests sugar, that sugar will eventually turn to alcohol and kill the insect. Insects instinctively know this, and plants with high Brix value (and, as a result, high sugar content) will emit different UV light patterns and electrical charges which communicate to insects that they should stay away.

Regular applications of Nature’s Magic will rapidly increase your turf’s Brix value.

Essential oils are the volatile biochemicals that are responsible for the odors of aromatic plants. Most of them belong to a class of compounds known as terpenes. They have been used as fragrances and flavors in the perfume and foods for ages, and informally as grain protectants and insect repellents. Few formal studies on their insect-repelling qualities had been conducted until the last 10 years.


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Natural Horticultural Oil

A Triple Action Safe and Natural Product

Dormant Oil Spray for overwintering insects
An All-Seasons Oil Spray from numerous insect pests (see list below)
Disease Control for four common plant & turf diseases

WIPEOUT Natural Horticultural Oil is a pesticide-free spray made from three natural (non-petroleum) oils. It is exempt from EPA Registration and can be sprayed on edible plants at any time up to harvest.

WIPEOUT controls smaller insects and scales by coating and suffocating them with natural oils (sesame seed, castor and fish oil). It works on all stages — eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults- of the target pest. It also has an insect preventing effect since it coats plants with a fine oil film that repels egg-laying insects.

For Chinch Bugs in lawns: Treat affected area heavily at 3-4 gallons of solution per 1000 sq. ft.  Water lightly to get the oil off the blades and onto the soil. Repeat in 7 days if necessary.  Using just 1-2 oz per gallon, a little WIPEOUT goes a long way.

Visit our website for more tips, techniques and organic products.



3 thoughts on “Chinch Bug Control

  1. Having a St. Augustine lawn, I have dealt first hand with Chinch Bugs. In this article, I learned about detection, organic control and the proper cultural practice such as fertilization, watering and general grass nutrition. very informative article thanks

  2. Can you recommend someone here in Gainesville, Florida that does natural applications to the lawn. I back up into Plaines Prarie and have beautiful birds, crows, squirrls, Many wild aninals also. I don’t want to endanger them. I feed them in my backyard. HELP!

    • Hi Martha,

      My company is set up for the Do It Yourself Homeowner. The organic products we carry have been packaged for easy application. Very few homeowners have a need for the quantity’s available commercially. Wipeout, an organic insecticide available in 5 gallon containers will treat 160,000 sq. ft. We package it in 1 quart hose end sprayers that have a coverage of 8,000 sq. ft. Application requires only a garden hose.

      Nearly all our products are liquid based for hose end application. We pre-mix many products for combined product applications giving professional results. All of our products are safe for people, pets and the environment. They are even classified by the EPA as food products (We can ship them via the Post Office).

      Check out our website for tips, techniques and organic Products.

      Sue Stout, RN

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