How to Identify Chinch Bugs and Chinch Bug Damage in St Augustine Grass Lawns


By Rick Orr 06/19/2017
Chinch bug nymphs and adults next to chinch bug damaged grass leaf
Chinch bug adults and nymphs beside damaged St Augustine grass leaves

Chinch Bugs are Pest of St Augustine Grass

The most widely used turf species in Pinellas County is St Augustine grass. It has a lot of great qualities: Dark green color, thick uniform growth, easy to establish and more. But it has this one huge downside:  chinch bugs. Why are they so troublesome? Because they are lethal. Chinch bug damage is so complete, there is no recovery - the lawn is dead and must be replaced.

How to Recognize Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are small, little  1/8" bugs that live in your lawn near the base of the leaf. They kill the grass by their feeding and injecting a toxin into the leaf causing the leaf to turn banana yellow and then paper bag brown. Finding chinch bugs in the lawn is tough - they are small, fast and when exposed to light they make a beeline for the nearest cover.

Chinch bug damage on St Augustine lawn  along the curb line of a road
Typical Chinch bug damage on a St Augustine lawn. Chinch bugs often start near masonry curbs, drives or sidewalks where the turf is drier and stressed.

How to tell if you have Chinch Bugs

Their damage mimics water stress and water stress - aka poor irrigation -  seems to trigger a population explosion and what didn't die from water stress, the chinch bugs will kill.

The damage does have few distinct characteristics like banana yellow leaves between dead and green grass, the paper bag brown color or scorched look to dead plants, an incomplete kill - you'll always find a few sprigs of surviving grass in the dead grass like wounded survivors in a battlefield and although chinch bugs can attack anywhere in the lawn, they will most likely start along the edge of a sidewalk or driveway.

What to do If you have Chinch Bugs

Should you suspect chinch bugs, first check the irrigation and repair as needed and then apply a good insecticide to the whole area and beyond the dead grass by 10 feet. Don't be surprised if the dead areas grow after treatment -Even though the chinch bug is dead - their toxin lives on and takes days to kill.

The best advice is to get a good lawn spraying company - if you had chinch bugs once, you'll always have them.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
APL Pest Control

Rick Orr is the creator of, Owner/Operator of APL Pest Control, and a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology).  

Since 1980, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick worked as a Golf Course Superintendent of Fripp Island Resort, agronomist for Seaside, FL, and the spray tech for Vinoy Golf Course. Rick has been certified as an arborist, landscape and irrigation contractor, and adjunct professor for Environmental Horticulture (SPC) in Pinellas County.  

Home Pest Control came naturally. Entomology (bug science) was part of agronomy studies. Nearly every indoor pest problem starts outdoors. Crossing over to home pest control from lawn spraying was a natural process – the technology, methods, and materials used for home pest control are modifications of the ones used for lawn spraying. 

The result of that work is one of the top-rated pest control companies in Pinellas County – APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control is a family-owned business serving residential and commercial properties in Pinellas County, FL. 

Free Price Quote for Home Pest Control and/or Lawn Care CLICK HERE

To learn more about APL Pest Control CLICK HERE

Speaking Engagements - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions, and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association, or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. To contact Rick you can find him on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram for booking information.