Chinch bugs are very small, about 3-4mm long and vary in colour depending on maturity. They can either be yellow, red or black with white wings at full maturity (4-6 weeks) and are prominent in July. They can be spotted if you look for them at the borderline of where your green grass meets the yellow patch. They are also more visible on hot and dry days as that’s when they feed most often. By the end of the summer your entire lawn can be yellow. There are many ways to minimize chinch bug damage. They tend to feed off lawns that are in rough shape from lack of moisture or no/poor fertilization. Following proper fertilization, watering and mowing practices will minimize damage.
The best defence against chinch bugs is a healthy lawn. If your lawn is fertilized regularly, mowed accurately and irrigated properly it will be able to withstand insect feeding. First and foremost, watering deeply but less frequently will allow the roots of your grass to deepen and your lawn will be able to grow new leaf blades as well as repair itself quickly from any insect feeding. One inch of water once a week between 4am to 7am is crucial to maintain active growth. Proper mowing is also very important, you should never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at any time to avoid shocking the grass plant. Keep your lawn around 3” long to make sure your grass doesn’t start using its food reserves, which will impact how quickly it recovers.