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Chinch Bugs – Crushed

“What is in the inside will eventually be manifested in the outside.” This maxim proves true to the experience of most homeowners in their diligence in creating a picturesque front yard landscape. After active maintenance of the lawn, there are still some scattered dead patches that appear to be caused by drought conditions. However, if thoroughly inspected, you will realize that there is already a growing population of pests living in your garden causing the death of your lawn grass. This phenomenon is called Chinch Bug Attack.

These little insects feed on the grass saps and inject toxic substance that disables the plants to transport water. This will cause the discoloration of the plants appearing to be some part of physiological change, but if not given proper attention will lead to the death of grasses like bluegrass and variations of red fescue. In most severe impact in the field of agriculture, it can damage an entire crop making the products a failure.

Detection

Chinch bugs are really difficult to find. Aside from their size, they also have a camouflaging ability. Also, most of the time, people don’t really realize that this problem already exists because it may appear that the lawn is just affected by some physiological changes or even some drought problems, only to find out in the end that is caused by an insect pest. There are different ways how to discover that chinch bugs are present in your location. First sign is, these bugs produce a pungent odour when crushed. So when you notice a peculiar smell when you walked on your grass, indeed it is a sure sign of their presence. Secondly, when you expose the ground to light by spreading the grass, you will notice crawling nymph as they try to look for a shade. They have a weakness in light so they will try to hide in the soil fissures. Lastly, you can use the process called floatation test. In implementing it, you will need a large can cut in the bottom the push it against the ground until it penetrates at least 2 inches deep in the ground. Choose the specific location where there is suspected chinch bug attack. After, pour soapy water continuously in the can until the water stops receding to the ground. Next, all you have to do is to wait for 10 minutes, and after the chinch bugs will start to float to the surface water. Apply the same method in different areas of your lawn, including the edges. Assessing it, if there are more than 10 chinch bugs in one floatation test, it simply means that the infestation is severe and can cause serious damage to your plants and lawn.

Description

There are two stages in which the chinch bugs can start to attack. Firstly, the adults, they are greyish-brown in colour, body structure is lean and about 1/8 to 1/6 inches long. They have wings which appear like prominent letter X with one overlapping with the other. It is thick and membranous in texture. Secondly, the nymph, on the other hand, doesn’t possess any wings. They look like isolated coffee grounds in shape, dimension and colour. Also, they have reddish and orangish marks on their abdomen. These two stages with both mature and immature chinch bugs are sustained through plants through their feeding device proboscis. It is a hypodermic-needle-like faculty which they use in sucking in plant fluids, which is the very reason why plants eventually die because they are unable to recompense the damaged leaf tissue and sap.

Developmental Stage

Chinch bugs prefer acrid, hot and sunny environments. On the contrary, saturated, warm and humid environments are disadvantageous for their society. These types of settings nourish a special type of fungus that can be deadly for their population. Also, heavy rains abase their number for young nymphs are usually trapped and drowned in the soil resulting death.

In the months of winter season, they are usually in hibernation. They remain stale as they seek shelter from the cold weather. After winter, they will start to be active again especially in hot conditions to find their mate. Basically, this is considered as their mating season. After a month, the mating process is still continuous until the female bugs can now lay eggs on the plants and roots. On the other hand, the male starts to feed from sucking the saps of plants. This process will last at least 30 days where female bugs have already laid approximately 200 eggs. On the following month, the nymphs are already developed and will continue to grow until they become adults. On this stage, both the nymph and the adult will feed progressively in the available plant sustenance. After another month, the nymphs will now reach maturity and for four succeeding month they will climb in the apex of their invasion. Also, the second generation of nymphs have also reached maturity on this stage. Finally, the chinch bugs will start to retreat from the target vegetation as they prepare for the incoming winter. They will again begin to look for a shelter to reside for this season. At the end of winter, the cycle will begin again and will continue to do so unless measures are taken to finally stop them.

Chinch Control

The management of this pest outbreak can still be reversed and finally be eradicated provided that you will do the necessary standards in stopping and preventing them from invading your lawn and plants. There are two resolutions that will address your concern about this pest problem: the Effective Solutions for current chinch bug problem, and the Preventive Measures for starting chinch bug problem.

Effective Solutions

Since we are all living in an ecosystem, it follows that there should always be a prey and a predator. One effective means to stop chinch bug problem is to tolerate their predators. The big-eye bug and the tiny wasps are the main predators and parasites of chinch bug which can significantly reduce their number. The big-eye bug is a relative to chinch bug but with an expanded body, larger head and distinctive eyes. The tiny wasps on the other hand functions in preventing the eggs to hatch by making it their food. To add, they are the type of bugs that is beneficial for the growth of plants.

Another alternative that you can use is the nematodes, which are microscopic parasites. Research found out that by the mixture of nematodes in the soil, will eliminate chinch bug problem. Though the research is still on-going, there are already some success stories about the use of this method.

Thirdly, the application of endophytic enhanced turf-grass is also proven to be successful. Endophytes are fungi living in the cell walls of the plants. This fungus is very beneficial in developing the resistance of the plant against insects and diseases by producing alkaloids in the system of the plant. Upon usage, follow the instructions provided in the label to achieve maximum effectivity without harming the health of your livestock.

Finally, if the condition has reached a certain level of severity, the need to apply chemicals is inevitable. There are many conventional brands of pesticides or insecticides available in the market today. They best eliminate the presence of the nymphs and even the adults especially if applied during their feasting season in summer. However, you should just be extra careful in handling these chemical and follow the directives in the label to avoid health compromises.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. There is no best chinch control method than to prevent them from invading your property. Preventing is always about going back to the basics.

The first reminder to consider is to always maintain the cleanliness of your lawn especially in managing the thatch found in your grass. Thatch is the accumulated dead leaves, grass, roots located in the surface of the soil. This setting is best place for chinch bugs as a shelter during winter. Therefore, just keep a moderate amount of thatch in your soil so it will serve as insulation for heat in hot weather. However, too much of it becomes too thick preventing the moist to penetrate the soil making that space hot- a suitable place for chinch bugs.

Secondly, use the right amount of fertilizer in your grass, preferably the organic and slow-acting ones. The main function of fertilizers is to replenish the nutrients as the plant grows. If there is a nutrient deficiency, the growth of the plant is poor having a weak immune system. If too much fertilizer is applied, it builds up nitrogen causing the plant to be feeble and soft. This malnourishment is an invitation for chinch bugs to pester.

Finally, have sufficient water supply for your lawn. By doing so, you are making an environment detrimental for the chinch bugs, as they only prefer dry and hot conditions.

Overall, the success of your endeavour against chinch bugs is primarily dependent on your sense of accountability. If there are already signs, you have to be responsible enough to investigate and do the necessary precautionary measures. If it is already existent, properly apply the most suitable method that will best fit your situation. To conclude further, maintenance of cleanliness and diligence in doing the dirty work will save you from more laborious consequences.