How To Tell If Your Katy Lawn Has A Chinch Bug Problem
Chinch Bug crawling on wild flowers.

How To Tell If Your Katy Lawn Has A Chinch Bug Problem

Homeowners typically make a variety of sacrifices to obtain, maintain, and improve the value and appearance of their homes. Most people agree they want a yard they can be proud of. Unfortunately, in natural outdoor environments, various unwanted pests target exterior lawn and garden areas and quickly create unsightly damage that requires costly repairs. Some of the most common types of lawn pests found on the properties of homeowners in the Katy region include aphids, sod webworms, grubs, and chinch bugs. 

How do I get rid of chinch bugs that are overtaking the lawn on my property? In some instances, homeowners try home remedies for ousting these types of pests, such as essential oils or soaps, that only generate mediocre and short-term results. A local Katy pest control company employs a staff of qualified technicians who understand what causes chinch bugs, are equipped with the leading treatment options, and know the best ways of performing chinch bug damage repair. 

What Are Chinch Bugs?

According to the AgriLife Research Department at Texas A&M University, the southern chinch bug (Blissus insularis) is a member of the order Hemiptera. As their name implies, southern chinch bugs are most prevalent in the southern areas of the United States, particularly on properties with St. Augustine grass. St. Augustine grass is a warm-season type used widely in urban settings throughout Texas because of its ability to cope with shade, drought, and other extreme conditions. 

Most researchers agree that chinch bugs are native to North America, as they appear in written history as agricultural pests dating back to the 1700s. Data suggests that chinch bugs originally inhabited the southernmost areas with subtropical climates and slowly transitioned to northern regions as crop production increased. 

Some of the other types of turfgrass that chinch bugs might feed on include centipede grass, Bahia grass, and Bermuda grass. Chinch bugs use their mouthparts to suck the phloem sap contained within the grass, which creates damage by leaving toxins that harm plant tissue. Sap is comparable to a plant's life's blood, with phloem being a form that contains vital nutrients and ensures that the stem and roots receive ample sugar and hormones. Xylem, another type of sap, contains minerals, some nutrients, and water, which will flow to the leaves of a plant. 

Certain endophytic grasses have demonstrated excellent abilities to tolerate or withstand hungry chinch bugs. Some areas with a lengthy history of chinch bug damage often transition to these endophytic types. 

Aside from residential yards areas, chinch bugs also are common in public parks and cemeteries, particularly when these areas are inadequately watered. When creatures such as chinch bugs consume these types of sap, they inject large amounts of water. The accumulated water is soon excreted by the bug as honeydew, a material that is rather sticky.  

Property owners often initially notice patches or spots of yellow grass that will worsen. Chinch bugs most commonly attack areas of a lawn that are dry and hot. 

One of the reasons why many individuals find controlling chinch bugs challenging stems from these tiny creatures' strong reproductive capacity. Often, chinch bugs will produce three to six generations in a single year. If a lawn dies, many chinch bugs will typically spread into the lawns of adjacent properties.

Are chinch bugs in Katy dangerous for humans or pets? Chinch bugs are primarily viewed as a nuisance pest that only harms plants. Chinch bugs are not known for spreading diseases, yet, minor skin irritation is possible if they make direct contact with your skin. 

Keep in mind that some of the store-bought insecticides and other lawn treatment products might contain harsh chemicals. Always read any warning labels closely; some might recommend keeping dogs away from the grass until these products dry completely. 

Did you know that certain other creatures that exist in exterior residential settings act as natural or biological agents that control chinch bugs? A variety of predatory creatures and parasitic insects will significantly reduce the population of chinch bugs. For example, the "black big-eyed bug" (Geocoris sp.) is often found in cotton fields. These creatures with large, projected eyes may reach up to 1/4 of an inch long.  

Another creature that preys on chinch bugs is a type of earwig called Labidura. As adults, these earwigs will often consume dozens of chinch bugs in a day. Other types of pests that might deter chinch bugs include wasps, spiders, and some types of ants. 

Some areas with cool, wet conditions have a fungus known as Beauvaria bassiana. This fungus has been shown to significantly reduce the chinch bug population, particularly during the spring months. 

Signs There May Be Chinch Bugs On Your Lawn

Are you wondering how to detect chinch bugs in lawn areas? Your lawn may struggle with various challenges involving disease, burrowing animals, pets, overly compacted soil, crabgrass, and more. 

The southern chinch bug life cycle lasts roughly seven to eight weeks and involves metamorphosis through several phases or stages, such as eggs, nymphs, and adults. As adults, southern chinch bugs are tiny, usually measuring only 1/10 to 1/5 of an inch long; therefore, chinch bug identification is often difficult with only the naked eye. Their bodies appear black and have whitish wings that fold with distinctive black "triangle-like" markings.

Other types of these pests include the "common" and false chinch bugs. Throughout all stages of development, chinch bugs will exist in the top layer of thatch or deep near the soil base. After emerging from eggs, chinch bug nymphs often appear orange or red with a white stripe. As they develop further, chinch bugs slowly darken until appearing black and wing pads soon emerge. Mature nymphs soon move by walking or flying, and the females' mate. Female chinch bugs place their eggs in the grass, which usually takes a couple of weeks to hatch based on the existing property conditions. 

Depending on winter conditions, adult chinch bugs may overwinter in a somewhat reclusive state until the spring. Amid milder winter conditions, the majority of chinch bugs survive. Chinch bugs typically thrive when temperatures are above 70°F.

One of the ways that chinch bugs are expelled from plants is by flotation. For example, a coffee can or other cylinder-shaped object with an open top and bottom can be positioned firmly in the soil and filled with water. Here, the majority of the chinch bugs will soon float to the top. Chinch bugs are also commonly detected and removed from the grass using a water and dish soap, which irritates these creatures. 

Lawn damage usually becomes noticeable when the number of chinch bugs approaches 20 to 25 per square foot. Often, homeowners notice dead lawn patches that they mistakenly assume result from chinch bugs. Here, the actual problem might involve insufficient water, diseases, grubs, and others. 

Another practical concern involves misidentifying chinch bugs with other types of similar-looking creatures—for example, some adult species of the previously mentioned big-eyed bug and some types of beetles. 

In some years, areas that consistently receive one inch of rainfall each week will not exhibit any signs of chinch bugs, regardless of whether they exist or not. Here, the chinch bugs are "masked" because the healthy turf becomes thick. 

Causes For Chinch Bug Infestations

Local property owners looking for answers regarding how to control chinch bugs should understand the most common causes of these troublesome pests. Some of the conditions that attract chinch bugs or allow them to thrive include: 

  • Many lawns develop a top layer of dead plant material known as thatch, which provides a layer of protection for chinch bugs and often reduces the effectiveness of insecticides and other products used for treating these pests. 

  • Improper mowing practices are another common cause of chinch bugs, as many property owners cut their grass too frequently or infrequently. 

  • Lawns with deeply compacted soil or other problems that impede the penetration of air and water are susceptible to chinch bugs and require aeration. 

  • Some homeowners use too much fertilizer on their lawns, which builds thatch and makes the grass more attractive to hungry chinch bugs. 

  • Chinch bugs typically prefer lawns that are hot and dry; therefore, failing to regularly water the lawn when needed is a source of problems. 

As the list above suggests, keeping your lawn free of chinch bugs involves learning to recognize the signs of excessive thatch, compacted soil, and a host of other conditions that make your lawn vulnerable to these pests. Consider consulting with a local provider of comprehensive pest control services for problems involving these and many other troublesome pests. Our professionals are properly trained and equipped to safely and efficiently expel chinch bug infestations and prevent them from returning. 

Your Lawn Could Recover From Chinch Bugs: Call Us Right Away!

What is the best way to kill chinch bugs? Too many local homeowners try taking matters into their own hands when they detect chinch bug activity in their yards. Despite operating with the best intentions, many of these individuals visit local home improvement retailers and acquire sprays, traps, or granular formulas that often have exaggerated claims of effectiveness. Weeks later, many of these individuals find that chinch bugs are still damaging their lawns and experience prolonged frustration. Further, some of these mass-marketed home treatment options might contain harmful chemicals that pose health risks. 

For more than 60 years, Modern Pest Control has remained among the leading providers of home pest management solutions for residents of Katy. Our experts are familiar with the various chinch bug control methods. We employ a multi-faceted approach when treating lawns plagued by chinch bugs and similar undesirable pests. 

Our service professionals will identify the type of grass and apply the appropriate fertilizer. In many instances, we add organic soil amendments or professional-grade lawn insecticides. Our specialists with Modern Pest Control understand the local climate and make the appropriate seasonal variations.

Part of our success stems from a commitment to ongoing learning, primarily associated with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) concepts. The IPM approach seeks to achieve highly effective solutions, ensure environmental protection, and are adaptable based on the combination of existing conditions. Pest control professionals that adhere to the principles of IPM understand the life cycles of the types of pests creating the problems and how these creatures interact with the physical environment. 

Despite its scientific focus and often complex methodologies, IPM is an approach that is founded in common sense and emphasizes the importance of choosing economical solutions. Further, our organization recognizes that our residential customers deserve excellent value. 

Many of our customers now enjoy our year-round property protection plans that ensure the premises remains pest-free. We have now created three service plans: our Modern Plus Service Plan, Signature Service Plan, and Signature Plus Service Plan. These program options include treatment visits conducted on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis that effectively targets a variety of bothersome and potentially harmful pests that invade properties, including rodents, ants, fleas, termites, and more. 

One reason why these package-style plans are so successful stems from their preventative nature. Rather than responding to an existing pest intrusion or infestation, our technicians implement a host of proactive measures that halt the activities of undesirable creatures. Thus, many property owners find that the year-round preventative service plans inherently represent a tremendous overall value.

Are you experiencing an existing pest-related problem at your home in Katy? After receiving an inquiry, we will deploy a qualified pro that will thoroughly inspect the premises as needed to understand the various property conditions, any likely points of indoor entry, any failures in routine maintenance tasks, and much more. 

Keep in mind that Modern Pest Control always stands firmly behind the quality of the work that we perform for local property owners. Achieving total customer satisfaction is among the primary reasons our company continues growing. This is evident because many of our new customers are referred from our previous or current customers that experienced positive outcomes. 

For additional information regarding our services, please contact our office today.

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