Controlling Chinch Bugs Organically

Chinch bugs are a pretty common lawn pest that suck the sap from grass and a severe infestation will make the lawn have patches of dead grass here and there (mostly next to shrub or flower borders where there's a good supply of protective cover and overwinter sites).

This pest can inject a toxin into the grass blade while eating that wilts the grass and eventually will kill it.

You'll mostly see this problem in a season when there is an early drought - hot and dry.

Wet seasons do not produce a huge crop of this pest.

Life Cycle of the Chinch Bugs

The life cycle starts out with an egg laid by the overwintered adult and when warm weather comes, the female lays about 200 eggs on grass and soil in the driest area she can find. Three weeks later, the nymphs hatch out and start feeding.

The nymphs do the most damage and you can identify them because they are about 1/20 inch long - red coloured with a white band across their back. They go through several molts and become flying adults able to lay eggs. You'll see two generations each summer.

Is it Lawn Care?

The big problem is that improper lawn care resembles cinch bug damage. The trick here is to monitor the lawn to see if you've overfed, forgot to water, or otherwise duplicated the effects of feeding.

The easiest way to monitor is to take a large tin can- cut off both ends and sink this into the ground. Pick an area where the yellowing grass meets the green grass to sink the can. Fill the can with water- let it soak in- fill it again. The chinch bugs will float to the top. If there are several in the can, you can consider spraying, but if you don't get any or only one or two- then let Mother Nature take care of it and create a healthy lawn.

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Removing Chinch Bugs

Another option for removing chinch bugs from the lawn is to drench the lawn with soapy water. Place white flannel sheets (use the old ones guys) over the lawn area. It should only take about 15 minutes (if you soaked enough) for the sheet to be full of escaping pests. Crush them or dump them into a bucket of soapy water.

Soaking the areas of damage with insecticidal soap mixed at killing proportions (40 parts water to 1 part soap) will knock off many of these pests. And using a soap/pyrethrum combination will also work.

A healthy lawn will shrug off chinch bug attacks so learning how to grow a healthy organic lawn is the first step in solving a great many lawn problems.

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