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The hairy chinch bug is a common lawn pest that sucks sap from grass with its piercing mouthpiece. Chinch bug damage gives the appearance of small round dead patches (brownish-yellow grass) and opens up areas for weeds to become established. When not controlled, large sections of lawn may die. This is particularly true of sunny, dry areas near slopes and the edge of lawns. Chinch bugs also cause damage when they feed and inject a toxic saliva into the grass causing it to wilt and die. Population size depends on the weather, with only small populations being produced under wet conditions. However, if the weather is hot and dry early in the season with minimal amounts of rainfall, a large population may occur.

Chinch Bug Adult chinch bugs are black with shiny white wing covers and are approximately 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) long. The nymph stage does more damage than the adult. The damage leaves the lawn susceptible to weeds and other insects and is more evident in hot, dry weather of July and August. Chinch bugs are found feeding on the soil surface and on tips of grass.


The chinch bug life cycle consists of egg, nymph and adult. The adult overwinters in a sheltered location such as hedges, leaves or dry grass. When warmer temperatures occur, the female chinch bug leaves the sheltered area and lays approximately 200 eggs on grass and soil in a dry hot area. The eggs hatch within three weeks producing young nymphs. The nymphs are smaller than the adults, approximately 1/20 of an inch (1 mm), and are red with a white band across the back. The nymphs pass through five growth stages before becoming adults. Two generations of chinch bugs are usually produced each year.



It is easy to confuse improper lawn care with chinch bug damage. Therefore, it is important to monitor your lawn to determine if damage is caused by chinch bugs or lack of moisture and/or over-fertilizing. Begin monitoring for chinch bugs in June before populations reach high numbers. There are several effective monitoring methods to try if you suspect chinch bugs are attacking your lawn. One option is to take a large can, cut both ends off and push it down into the top layer of the lawn. Pick an area of the lawn where brown-yellow or dead patches of grass meet green healthy grass, as this is where chinch bugs can be found. Fill the can with water and watch for chinch bugs to float to the top.

Another option involves first drenching the damaged area with soapy water. Then place white flannel sheets over the area and within 15 to 20 minutes chinch bugs will be attaching themselves to the sheet to escape the soap. Finally, when large numbers of chinch bugs are present, they are found in sections of the lawn where the healthy grass meets the damaged sections.


A well fertilized and nutrient-rich area can withstand a chinch bug attack. Thus, good lawn care is the best prevention against chinch bug damage. Understanding chinch bugs, the conditions they favour and their life cycle is very helpful in control. Keep the lawn well fertilized and take caution not to add too much or too little nitrogen. Use proper mowing techniques which include cutting grass two to four inches (6-7 1/2 cm) high, removing thatch, maintaining proper moisture levels, avoiding water buildup, aerating the lawn if it is compacted and using a resistant variety of grass.

If you are establishing a new lawn or reseeding an old one, use a resistant variety of grass which will offer protection against attack by chinch bugs. An example of a resistant variety is an endophytic grass which contains a fungus that repels attack by chinch bugs and other insects.


If physical methods are not effective, use a pesticide which will have a minimal impact on both you and the environment. Use an insecticidal soap spray on areas where damage has occurred. Diatomaceous earth can also be used to control chinch bugs. Diatomaceous earth is an insecticidal dust which acts as an abrasive. It cuts the outer layer of the chinch bug's body causing it to dehydrate and then die. Products containing pyrethrin can also be used.

If the above measures are not effective, consult with an expert at a garden center for additional pesticides available. Before using pesticides, consult the Backyard Bug Brigade Brochure which contains information on safe pest control.

Always use a registered domestic class pest control product labelled for chinch bug control and carefully follow the label directions.

[ First Page | Aphids | Biting Flies (Mosquito & Black Fly) | Carpenter Ants | Chinch Bugs | Cockroaches | Cutworms | Earwigs | Eastern Tent Caterpillars | European Marsh Crane Flies | Fleas | Mice & Rats | Silverfish | Wasps (Yellow Jacket) | Turf Weeds | White Grubs | Pesticide Regulations ]