Chinch bugs are small insects that can make your lawn appear as though it’s dry but is actually slowly killing it before your eyes. The adult chinch bug is a small insect that can be seen darting around in the thatch layer or surface of the lawn. The adult is black with a characteristic white diamond on its back while in the young stage, it is bright red and orange; very easy to see if you look close enough.
The chinch bug does damage by piercing the stem of the grass blade and sucking out the juices like a vampire. Unable to restore or keep up with this moisture loss, turf slowly dies and appears as yellowing or brown patches that can coalesce into larger areas.
I have included two pictures taken last week that clearly illustrate chinch bug damage Notice that the picture (seen above) of the more recent damage appears as small brown areas that can easily be mistaken for drought stress or a hot spot in the lawn. The rear lawn (see below) is severely damaged and the front lawn still under attack from chinch bugs overwintering and beginning their reign of terror this spring. The damage appears as razor stubble, for lack of a better analogy, where the grass is still rooted but the tops are dead, leaving only a small piece of the crown and old leaves behind like razor stubble or five o’clock shadow. This lawn will be treated once to knock the chinch bugs back so no further damage occurs. Seeding will be done in the future to restore lost turf.
Left unchecked, chinch bug populations can explode in one season, destroying large portions of your lawn right underneath your weekly mowing schedule. What you think is a dry lawn is really a lawn under attack, perishing from the small, yet determined chinch bug. Since chinch bugs can have two full generations per year in NH or VT, a lawn that becomes infested can quickly succumb in a matter of months, requiring treatment and renovation involving seeding and thatch removal.
If you suspect your lawn does not look right and has unusual browning or coloring, call in a professional before a costly lawn renovation is necessary.