Why Chinch Bugs are Hard to Control in Central Florida

If you’re new to the Orlando area, you may not realize this, but chinch bugs are the most damaging insect to St Augustine grass. These tiny piercing-sucking insects are about 1/8 to 1/10 of an inch long with black bodies. Adult females may live up to 2 months, laying 4 or 5 eggs a day, or 250-300 eggs in a lifetime. Tiny eggs are laid singly or a few at a time in leaf sheaths, soft soil, or other protected areas. The eggs are white when first laid and turn bright orange or red just before hatching. Eggs hatch within 6-13 days (average = 10 days), and nymphs mature in 4-5 weeks. Young nymphs are reddish-orange with a white band across the back (Figure 2), darken in color as they mature (fourth instar), and turn black before becoming adults. Populations tend to be clumped in an area of a lawn, and usually more than one chinch bug can be found in the bottom leaf sheath on a grass plant. As their host plants die, individuals will walk to neighboring St. Augustine grass plants to continue feeding.

chinch-bugs-close-upThus, dead patches of grass seem to get larger over time. The speed of turf’s death probably depends on chinch bug density and the turf’s overall health.

Control: Many contact products will kill chinch bugs within 3-5 days of treatment, but systemic products require the insects to feed on treated tissue, and affected insects might die more slowly (up to 7 or more days). If you’re going to engage in do-it-yourself pest control, you should avoid using pest control products that are not specifically for use on turfgrass for controlling turf-feeding insects. All directions and the insecticide label should be read and understood before a product is used, particularly the dosage rates, application procedures, and precautions.

Resistance Management: Since insecticide resistance to pyrethroids exists in several areas of Central Florida, this can make control extremely difficult. Given the long history of southern chinch bug developing resistance to different insecticides, efforts should be made to reduce the amount and frequency of insecticide use against this pest. Having to increase the number of applications or the rate of product being used when it worked well at lower rates are warning signs of potential resistance. Rotating insecticides with different modes of action or chemical classes is very important

When it comes to pest control, Orlando residents should consider hiring a lawn service that is expert in handling home pest control, like Termite Lawn & Pest. To obtain a free quote, simply click the button below.

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