Is it Chinch Bugs? Fungus? Or Something Else?


By Rick Orr 05/06/2017
Remote video URL
Part of my job is to diagnosis what is wrong with a lawn, what's causing the problem, what happen and most important - how to fix the problem


Here is an example:

The customer explains  "I think I have chinch bugs or a fungus, it can't be water,  My Irrigation is running. and "I water according to the restrictions"  - like water restrictions are prescription given by the government to tell you the best way to water your lawn. - heh, that’s funny - water restriction are not prescriptions and are not the best way to water your lawn.

That's a topic for another time… back to the scene here

So what is happening….

The lawn has a lot of brown areas and some green areas that appear to be healthy.

The customer knows the irrigation system is working and she is following the government restrictions, which leads her to believe it can't be water and that it must be something else - like chinch bugs or a fungus.

We can rule out chinch bugs or fungus or anything biological - this is an irrigation problem. But how can it be an irrigation problem, if the system is running?

First, we need to understand that it is possible for all the following to be true:

That the irrigation is running
She is following water restrictions
And her lawn is suffering from lack of water.

All of that can be true at the same time.

How? - low pressure -  there's not enough water pressure for the irrigation system to run properly - it's running, but running poorly.

How do I know this? The two dark green spots are sprinkler heads. Due to the low pressure, the heads never fully extend and they  "weep" water around the heads and keep those areas moist. This green arch is caused by low pressure too. But this head here has just enough pressure to function but it only produces a "pee" stream of water goes about 15 feet and creates this green arch.

The fix is to find  the cause of the low pressure on the system - it could be broken pipe, broken head, or a pump problem. For those on reclaim, it could be the low pressure on the reclaim water system.

Lawn spraying can't fix any of those problems but a good irrigation tech can.

However, There's always the danger that chinch bugs, which prefer water stressed dead dying grass, will attack the lawn and make this irrigation problem much, much worse.

The solution: be sure that a good insecticide has been applied within the last month, fix and repair the irrigation and water the heck out of that lawn for at least 10 days.

This is my job, I love it, I do this all the time - and not every brown spot is an irrigation problem, chinch bugs and grub damage mimic water stress and are hard to tell apart from irrigation issues. So if you're in doubt, let the expert diagnosis what is ailing your lawn. It could save you a lot of time, effort and money.

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

Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of

Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape contractor, and irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the owner and operator of APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control provides lawn care and pest control for all of Pinellas County.

To learn more about APL Pest Control CLICK HERE

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