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.
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.