Saturday, April 14, 2012

Controlling Chinch Bugs in Central Florida

Chinch bugs cause serious damage in the thick turf of lawns and golf courses. In many cases, dying or dead areas of a lawn can signal the presence of this pest. Proper pest control can help avoid infestations.

Chinch bugs can be very damaging to St. Augustine grass in the Orlando area. You may see them on grasses such as Zoysia, Bermuda, and Centipede, but infestations usually occur where high populations have built up on St. Augustine grass. Making things worse, because they can fly, it is also difficult to keep an area free of chinch bugs if they are emerging from neighboring lawns, golf courses or nearby farms.

How Do You Detect Chinch Bugs?
Examine the grass in the marginal areas of injured patches, not in the clearly dead grass. Spread the grass gently with your fingers and look in the thatch, near the soil surface. Chinch bugs are usually very active in the summer, so you will be able to see them scurrying around, especially on warm summer days.

An alternative method of detecting chinch bugs is to remove both ends of a large tin can, such as a coffee can. Soften the soil a little with water, and insert one end of the can into the ground at least 5 to 8 cm (2-3 inches) deep, leaving at least 10 cm (4 inches) of the can above the ground. Fill the can with water and wait about five minutes. If chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface of the water, where you can count them. This test will also bring mole crickets to the surface.

It is very important to check areas where the yellowish spots and the green grass meet in several different locations. If you don't find any chinch bugs, or only one or two, check at least a half dozen sites to be sure there are few or no chinch bugs and therefore that the dying grass is associated with some other condition, e.g., drought stress alone, summer dormancy, other pests or diseases, dog urine patches, spilled mower gas.

If you are seeing definite aggregations of chinch bugs at the margins of damaged areas, then it's likely you do have a chinch bug problem.

Miller Enviro-Care can manage chinch bug populations after major damage has occurred and prevent chinch bug infestations by applying insecticide applications April to mid-May. Providing your lawn with regular pest control will control the subsequent generations from reaching maturity during the summer.

Miller Enviro-Care has over 30 years of combined experience in Pest Prevention, Termite Protection, Irrigation Systems, Sod Supply and Lawn Care Solutions. Based in Oviedo, we are in business to protect the health, food, property and quality of our environment for customers throughout the Orlando area including, but not limited to Winter Springs, Casselberry, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Maitland, Lake Mary, Sanford, Apopka and Winter Park.

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