Chinch Bugs. Why are they a pest?

Widely found throughout the United States, there are several species of chinch bugs that are damaging to turf-grass. They are usually found on drought-stressed lawns where they puncture grasses with their needle-like beaks and suck the fluids out. As a result of their feeding, large irregular patches of lawn begin to turn yellow then brown as they die. These patches often begin on the edges of lawns and will continue to get larger, even when properly watered. Damage occurs most frequently during hot, dry weather from June through September.

chinch bug anatomy

Chinch Bug Control

You’ve kept your grass long and improved and aerated your soil, and yellow patches are still appearing in your grass. Here are some ways to naturally control an outbreak of chinch bugs.

  • Release beneficial insects onto your lawn. Ladybugs or lacewings will kill chinch bugs and won’t hurt your lawn.
  • Spot treat sections with organic products. Some companies, such as Planet Natural, offer an organic product called Safer Soap that you can use to kill chinch bugs.

Dust your lawn with organic diatomaceous earth. This fine powder is made up of fossilized aquatic organisms. Chinch bugs are damaged when they climb through the powder, and it eventually kills them.

There are several methods you can use to prevent chinch bugs in the first place. They’re not foolproof, but prevention is a good thing.

  • Keep your lawn as high as you can: Don’t remove more than a third of the blades’ surfaces when you mow.
  • Keep your blades sharp: A clean cut with your mower promotes good lawn health.
  • Aerate your soil: Dense soils typically have more chinch bug infestations.
  • Improve your soil: Add a healthy organic compost or manure to your lawn.
  • Use slow-release fertilizers: Heavily fertilized lawns are more susceptible to chinch bug infestations.