The above lawn is stressed from Chinch bug damage. This is a lawn that receives regular fertilization and the customer called wondering why their efforts are not improving their lawns overall looks. This is a prime example of why we recommend folks sign up for our Magic Carpet Gold program. It contains our basic fertility program with broadleaf weed control plus it protects your lawn from all turf damaging insects. The patchy areas are damaged lawn from last year. The yellow looking grasses are the ones that are currently stressed by the chinch bugs. It’s really hard to tell but upon closer examination and findings of the actual bugs, it’s obvious. It is very easy to overlook these insects as they are so small. Whenever you notice something not looking as it should with your lawn, you should be contacting us for a closer examination. Since we only see your lawn once every 45 – 55 days and you get to observe it every day, it only makes sense to contact us and discuss it further.
Chinch bugs are tiny insects that feed on turfgrass. They have wings but cannot fly. Strange that they were given wings but no ability to use them. Either way as a nymph (adolescent) they do not have any and appear reddish in color. They will grow into an adult and have wings that fall off the backside of the abdomen. They are sucking insects in that they will suck the juices out of grass blades. They love sunlight and heat. This means that you will see them causing damage in sunny areas and not in the shaded areas. This makes it especially difficult to spot during periods of drought. In fact, when we are in a drought it is the most difficult time for turfgrass as it has minimal moisture and when the chinch bugs attack grass plants usually can’t withstand it. Also, since they love the sun and not the shade, it’s very common to see areas under trees looking great! That will lead folks to believe that it is drought stress even further. However, that’s not the case!
When they are running in and out of the thatch layer, they make a short run-up to the blades where they will have a little drink. When they are finished they’ll inject a toxin into the blade which will translocate down to the roots and kill the plant if it is under drought stress. Even if it isn’t and the population is at the threshold the plants can still be injured.
So as the usual story goes with Chinch bugs after the feeding takes place and the rains return in the fall most folks just pass it off as drought stress. Then never realize that it could have been prevented by a simple treatment at the beginning of the summer.