The false chinch bug is a small insect commonly found within grassy or weedy fields, pastures, and foothills. These bugs are less than 1/4 inch long, brownish gray, and narrow bodied. While immature, they have inconspicuous red markings on their body.

False chinch bugs are often confused with other similar-looking bugs in the same family. Chinch bugs are wider, have larger eyes, and are beneficials that feed on pest insects and mites. These never occur in abundance as do false chinch bugs.

Each spring, once the plants begin to dry up, the false chinch bug migrates to find new places to feed. This becomes a nuisance for homeowners when these bugs migrate into their landscapes and homes and can cause problems for gardeners and farmers. They feed on weed seedlings. As they reach maturity, they begin to cluster together in extremely high numbers in preparation for migration. They are a temporary nuisance but do little or no feeding while clustered and will move away in a short time. Wet winters result in greater weed populations that will lead to larger populations of false chinch bugs.

Once they have reached numbers high enough to be noticeable, it is too late to do much about them. Use tight fitting doors and weather stripping to prevent entry into buildings. If they get inside sweep or vacuum them up and dispose of them. There are minimal results when applying pesticides either outside or indoors. Once temperatures increase, and the desert dries out, they move in their masses, then die off very quickly. They are at worst a temporary irritant and completely harmless. Prevent future problems by eliminating cruciferous weed hosts in January and February.

Usually the mass migration lasts only one week at most. These insects move predominantly in the cooler mornings or late evenings, so water sprinkling can help reduce movement during these two periods. Creating a water moat around gardens also can reduce insect infestation.

If you are looking for a DIY option, some people have had good results with a home made mixture of 40 percent water, 40 percent alcohol and 20 percent dish soap. This can be applied by spray bottle or a hose attachment sprayer. Please contact us with any questions or concerns. Don’t forget to Follow us on Instagram and Like us on Facebook!