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Chinch bugs is about 1/6 inch long, has a gray-black body with fine hairs, white wings, and reddish legs. The outer margin of each forewing has a small, black, triangular spot. The wings of the adult are folded flat over their backs. Some populations of chinch bugs have adults with short wings. Young nymphs are about half the size of a pinhead, and start out as being brick-red with a transverse white band across the back. As the young mature, they turn gray and then black with wing pads developing as they mature into adults.
Chinch bug damage can be confused with certain lawn diseases or other physiological disorders. Brown patch is a common disease affecting the leaf blades of St. Augustinegrass. Brown patch symptoms, however, usually occur in a circular or semi-circular pattern, as opposed to the irregular-shaped areas of dead and dying grass that result from chinch bug feeding.
The hairy chinch bug prefers turfgrass species such as fine fescues, perennial ryegrasses, Kentucky bluegrass, bentgrass and zoysiagrass. The common chinch bug prefers grain crops such as sorghum, corn and wheat but will attack turfgrasses such as Bermudagrass, fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, zoysiagrass and crabgrass.
Chinch bugs have three life stages: egg, nymph and adult. Eggs are laid singly or in clusters around the base of host plants, either in the ground or behind leaf sheaths on lower plant parts. Eggs are whitish and elongate when freshly laid and darken to a reddish color before hatching. Eggs may be laid anytime from the end of April to early October, although in each generation most are laid over a two- to threeweek period. Each female lays up to several hundred eggs. Female reproductive potential varies from year to year and may be affected by host plant quality during development. The time required for egg hatch ranges from one to two weeks and depends on temperature and location. Eggs in warm locations with good solar exposure hatch first.
Chinch bug nymph
Nymphs molt five times before becoming adults, growing and changing in appearance with each molt. The head and thorax are pale, yellowish- brown in early instars, but dark brown to black in. later ones. Similarly, the abdomen is yellowish or reddish-orange in young nymphs, but darkens to almost black in the final instar. All nymphs have a characteristic white band across the middle of the body, although this feature becomes partially hidden by the developing wing pads in the fifth and final instar. Newly molted adults are pale at first, but darken quickly and develop a distinctive black-on-white X pattern on the wings. There are typically two generations per year
Damage - 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 lo-calized dead patches. These dead areas are brown, irregular, sunken patches, which can coalesce into larger dead areas. Chinch bugs thrive in hot, dry weather. Sunny areas are usually the most affected. All common turfgrass spe-cies in Ontario are susceptible to chinch bug feeding, but some varie-ties may be more susceptible to chinch bug injury. However, re-search has shown that turf cultivars containing high levels of endophytic fungi may show some re-sistance to chinch bug feeding.
Treatment:In-furrow applications of systemic insecticides at planting can provide good protection of emergent seedlings for a period of about three weeks under optimal conditions. Insecticides with systemic activity in the plant can provide excellent control of chinch bugs, aphids, flea beetles, wireworms and other seedling pests, but require adequate soil moisture in order to be taken up by the plants.
Chinch Bug Damage
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