Hairy Chinch Bugs in Lawns
Chinch bug is a destructive lawn pest in Ontario. First reported in 1971, chinch bug damage has since become a common home lawn problem in many provinces. Many lawns are only partially damaged, but in severe cases, the entire lawn can be damaged to such an extent that it must be entirely renovated.
Chinch bugs have piercing mouth parts. They suck the sap from the
crown and stems of turfgrass plants. Populations of chinch bugs
tend to be aggregated. As a result, the damage usually begins as
localized dead patches. These dead areas are brown, irregular, sunken
patches, which can coalesce into larger dead areas (Figure
1). Chinch bugs thrive in hot, dry weather. Sunny areas are
usually the most affected. All common turfgrass species in Ontario
are susceptible to chinch bug feeding, but some varieties may be
more susceptible to chinch bug injury. However, research has shown
that turf cultivars containing high levels of endophytic fungi may
show some resistance to chinch bug feeding.
Figure 1. Chinch
bug damage on a lawn.
Figure 2. Adult hairy chinch bugs.
The chinch bug causing damage to lawns in Ontario is the hairy
chinch bug, Blissus leucopterus hirtus. This insect is quite
small - the adults are 4 mm in length (Figure 2).
The immature nymphs are bright red in colour when they first hatch,
and begin to darken from brick red to grey/brown when they are nearly
mature. The immature nymphs have a characteristic white band across
their abdomen, which is eventually covered by the enlarging wings
as the insects become larger and mature (Figure
Figure 3. Chinch bug nymph with white band across the abdomen (far right).
The adult chinch bug spends the winter congregated under trees and shrubs and on the edges of lawns under hedges and in flower beds. As the temperatures become warmer in the spring (mid- to late May), the adults move into the lawn and begin depositing eggs.
The first young nymphs can be found in late May to early June; these individuals become adults by mid-July in the Guelph area. Damage is usually apparent by the middle to end of July. In most of Ontario, severe damage is not noticed until August, after several weeks of hot, dry weather.
Use one of the following methods to confirm a suspected chinch
Method I (Figure 4)