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Chinch Bugs are Damaging St Augustine Grass throughout Pinellas County
by Rick Orr
Chinch bugs love hot dry St Augustine grass. The only thing that makes life better for a chinch bug is when it rains after a hot dry spell. Think of rain after a long dry spell as salad dressing on the St Augustine grass – the chinch bugs love it! To be more accurate: the chinch bugs are attracted to the stressed St Augustine grass and when the rains come, they can reproduce faster and exponentially increase their damage.
The Biology of Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are very small and very difficult to find in the turf. Damage mimics water stress and often starts along edges of masonry surfaces such as walks and drives. The difference between water stress and chinch bugs is the variety of patterns to the damage and the presence of living grass in the middle of the devastation. If your lawn has been invaded by chinch bugs in the past, most likely they will return.
The damage done by chinch bugs is so complete that recovery is not possible. St Augustine Grass damaged by chinch bugs must be replaced.
So What to Do?
First, prevent water stress on your lawn. Turf that is water stressed attracts chinch bugs. Next treat your lawn – especially stressed areas – with a good insecticide focusing on the edges of the damage not the center. The new pyrethroids are excellent and come in many formulations. Bifenthrin and Permethrin are active ingredients in insecticides sold for chinch bug control at Lowes and Home Depot. They do a good job at killing existing chinch bugs but have little if any residual control. Monthly applications during the warm months are required to protect your lawn from chinch bugs.
In Pinellas County, chinch bugs are priority #1 for my services. If you are struggling with keeping the chinch bugs out of your lawn, consider hiring a professional – the $30.00 a month can keep $3000.00 of St Augustine grass from dying.
ILoveTurf.com - June 10th, 2012
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