Chinch bugs are under rated and a delightfully evil little lawn pest. They love hot weather and can devastate a lawn if left unchecked in mere days to weeks. Don’t think your are in the clear if you live out in the woods, these pests will find your lawn and eat it while you sleep. They are small, they are shy and hide down in the thatch layer where you don’t see them. Chinch bugs vary in color but the adults have an unmistakable white diamond on their backs.
These tiny little fellows have kids that range in color from orange, to gray, to black before reaching the slim classic adult with the diamond back. They are about 1/8″ long and run fast when you uncover their hiding places. A trained eye can easily spot them but unless you are down at ground level forget about it, these guys will party until your lawn is dead and gone. The funny thing about chinch bugs is they get about two generations in NH and VT. Left to their own evil plans, chinch bugs populations will build over time- especially in dry weather. Since the adults overwinter and hide for the following year- the population will continue to expand and move further into your lawn. In other words, chinch bugs do not die over the winter, they hide and wait for warmer weather like many of us!
I recently visited a lawn which pictures I have enclosed in this post. I have not seen this many chinch bugs since the late 90’s! Oh my word, there were so many, they were climbing up the garage door and foundation. Can you say science fiction? Not in this case- this is real. If you view these pictures- the lawn has a grey tint to it versus a brown or tan. While most lawns will only suffer blotches or patches, a heavy infestation will cause extreme thinning and the unmistakable look of death- grey. This lawn has suffered massive damage and most of the turf will not recover especially with heat and drought stress. We treated the lawn to clean up these villans today mostly to save the front lawn and stop the population explosion underway.
If you have any doubt, have a professional check it out. This homeowner went to a local garden center and a few other “experts” and no one could determine the identity of this bug. This is why licensed, educated, field experienced veterans like myself are truly of value and set the bar of those in the industry by merit and deed. Don’t let a brown lawn stay brown, make sure it is checked.