Chinch Bug Damage: How to Manage and Recover

What do you know about chinch bugs? Chinch bugs are common lawn insects that live in the thatch layer of your lawn. Chinch bugs feed on grass and slowly kill your grass during the summer heat causing some dead patches to appear on your lawn. Whatever you have taken the lawn care service, including watering regularly but these patches are still there, your lawn must have the chinch bug damage!

The hardest part of this project is that the symptoms of chinch bug damage to your lawn don’t differ from the drought damage much. So, how do gardeners know how to diagnose rightly and get rid of the chinch bug? This article will you all the answers!

chinch bugs-1drought on grass

The following will answer the questions about signs of chinch bug damage, how to identify whether your lawn is affected by chinch bugs, and ways to prevent them to prepare for a healthy lawn.



hairy chinch bug

Chinch bugs are common lawn insects and so small that you hardly find them in the grass. Because of that, chinch bug populations will increase at a rapid rate and reach the infestation level before you notice any signs of chinch bug damage. Mostly, chinch bugs damage types of turf and grass while other insects damage corn, wheat, and sorghum.

There are some typical types of chinch bugs: common chinch bug, hairy chinch bugs, southern chinch bug, etc. The piercing mouthparts allow chinch bugs to suck moisture from grass blades and feed on grass. Then, they release enzymes into the grass blades and interrupt the water movement to push the feeding process. In the early of the process, the grass will have yellow, and after feeding, enzymes continue damaging and causing the grass to turn brown and die.


The southern chinch bug is usually tiny, dark red, black, or brown in color with a white stripe across its body. The immature bug is bright red or grayish and generally measures about 1/10 of an inch long, which is equivalent to the tip of a pen.

immature chinch bug

Adult chinch bugs are also similar to immature ones, with black bodies and white wings. However, the adult southern chinch bug measures about 1/4 or 1/6 of an inch, and its wings will have enough function and bear a triangular black mark. Some of them can fly with full-sized wings while others shorter cannot.

adult chinch bugs

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Depending on which state you live in and the climate in your area, chinch bugs are generally found in hot and dry weather, when there is the sunniest period and area of the lawn. Chinch bugs thrive mostly in the Southern U.S. and prefer zoysia grasses. In the winter, the adult chinch bug will go dormant and reproduce when the weather gets warmer in the early spring.

By late spring or early summer, from late June to September, the heat from rising temperatures will increase chinch bug activity most. In optimal conditions with the hottest and warmest weather, female chinch bugs can lay eggs up to 300 and they will be hatched just after 2 weeks!

eggs of chinch bugs

People can notice visible damage to your lawn in August. However, this will be the time in which chinch bugs are the most destructive! You should wonder whether it is too late to begin to reduce populations of them.


If you notice any chinch bug damage even when your lawn is well irrigated, your lawn might have chinch bug infestations. There are some common symptoms of chinch bugs: spot chinch bugs or dry-looking grass areas. They might be similar to drought conditions; however, the shape of the brown patch is in a circular pattern, different from the irregular shape of dying grass resulting from chinch bug feeding.

symptoms of chinch bugs

The damage from the chinch bug might look like drought stress at first. However, when you do enough water movement on your lawn but do not solve any problem, that’s time you know your lawn has been infested.

There are two ways for you to spot the bugs:

Use a magnifying glass to look closely and find chinch bugs among your grass blade when they move around. Use your hand to part the blades of grass and find chinch bugs lying on your lawn. The best place to find tiny bugs is at the edges of damaged turf, where you can look for both adult chinch bugs and immature bugs.

use magnifying glass

Another way is to conduct a tin can or float test. In this method, you should wear gloves beforehand so that the sharp edge of the metal will not cut your hand. Remove two ends of the metal cylinder and push down the metal cylinder as hard as you can to reach the soil.

push down cylinder

Then, fill 3/4 of the can with water and maintain the water level for about 10 minutes (if you push down enough, the can will make a seal that keeps water from running out). If your lawn has chinch bugs, they will float to the top of the water surface.

bugs on the top of tin can


Chinch bugs are especially impressed by stressed lawn and heavily thatched layers. Dethatching and proper irrigation are two common cultural control methods bringing the most effectiveness. However, compared to chemical effects, cultural control chinch bugs will not eliminate bugs completely and they will continue to appear again.

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De-thatching Your Lawn

No matter whether you have chinch bugs or not, removing dead grass from your lawns is very necessary. This will help you to keep bugs stay away from your lawns. Removing dead grass also minimizes the probability of female chinch bugs laying eggs and spending their winter on your lawns.

reduce thatch layer

Thatch is the dead layer of plant material between the green grass and the top of the soil which provides a protective home for chinch bugs. Bugs will go hibernate in the winter on the soil surface. So, use a rake and remove thatch as the way to remove their hibernate places so that we can prevent female chinch bugs from laying eggs and keep them at a manageable rate.

Lawn Irrigation

Irrigating your lawn on the appropriate timetable is suitable for various types of your lawns and their location may keep your lawns fresh and healthy for the whole summer. It also helps control chinch bugs’ activity because there is a lot of rainfall, and chinch bugs can be drowned in the water.

lawn irrigation

Too much or too little water will also cause chinch bug damage to your lawn. Because chinch bugs prefer hot and dry weather, not enough water during spring or early summer will increase the survival of chinch bugs. However, too much water on the lawn will make the soil more saturated and lack oxygen.

Keep the healthy turf during the summer and if lucky, you can let your lawn under natural rainfall because almost bugs are drowned in the water!

Use Resistant Turfgrasses

If your overseed areas were harmed previously by chinch bug with some harmful factors, such as entophytic fungi-containing perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue. Endophytic grass can help you to keep chinch bugs away from your regions. However, these types of grasses do not flourish in the Southern.

Use Resistant Turfgrasses

If your lawn consists of a mixture of these common turfgrasses: Kentucky bluegrass, Zoysiagrass, Perennial ryegrasses, etc., there is a high probability that your lawn is attractive to chinch bugs. Actually, there is no chinch-bug-resistant grass available on the commercial market. So, this way will bring you many difficulties!

Use Chemical Control

Although cultural methods reduce significantly the use of chemicals on your lawn to decrease the population of chinch bugs, some dying zones of turfgrass having bugs will require chemical treatment to control chinch bugs. Notice that you just need to use chemicals when the population reaches about 15 – 20 square foot in a yard.

There are two typical types of insecticides: granular and liquid.

granular insecticide

Use a standard fertilizer spreader to apply granular insecticides and irrigate about ⅛ – to ¼ -inch of water to activate the insecticides. This will keep the granules from scattering between sidewalks or gutters.

liquid insecticide

Liquid sprays are recommended to use by applying 15 to 20 gallons of water with a hose-end sprayer to ensure spraying even coverage. You should water before applying liquid insecticides to the turf but not vice versa.

Some chemical products are recommended to homeowners for controlling chinch bugs: bifenthrin, trichlorfon (which requires much effort), cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, or any products containing carbaryl.

To find a professional to lessen chinch bug damage to your lawn, contact Green Arbor Landscaping for more information. You can contact us through:

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