Texas homeowners have a lot to contend with when trying to grow a green lawn. High heat, unpredictable levels of rain, and drought-scorched soil can get in the way without the right intervention.

This year, chinch bugs also caused millions of dollars of damage to Texas turf grass. If you aren’t careful, you could face serious devastation in a matter of weeks.

How can you spot signs of chinch bugs in Texas turf grass? Once you know they’re there, what can you do to get rid of them and restore beauty to your lawn?

Read on to learn everything you need to know to protect your Texas home from chinch bugs.

Can You Spot Chinch Bugs?

Your first instinct is probably to go hunting for the bugs themselves. Chances are, if your lawn is healthy and the grass is tall and lush, you won’t be able to see them before you see the damage they’ve caused.

That’s because chinch bugs are a lot smaller than most garden variety pests. Adult chinch bugs tend to reach a length of about one-sixth of an inch. That’s smaller than the eraser on a pencil!

What Do Chinch Bugs Eat?

In Texas, people tend to associate chinch bugs with St. Augustine grass. While this is a particular favorite of the chinch bug, it’s not the only thing they’ll happily snack on.

Chinch bugs will eat:

  • Corn, small grains, and other crops
  • Bunch grasses
  • Turf grasses

Chinch bug adults will eat the entire leaf and stem of your grass. The nymphs can do even more damage, feasting on the roots below the soil. Chinch bugs have a rapid reproduction rate, which means you’re probably dealing with adults and nymphs once an infestation takes hold.

When are Chinch Bugs Active?

Homeowners tend to expect pests like chinch bugs to be old news by mid-fall. However, with our warmer climate down here in Texas, we’re not quite that lucky.

Chinch bugs emerge in the spring when we leave winter temperatures behind. By mid-summer, they’re in full swing, but this is only their first round of reproduction. Thriving chinch bug populations will lay a second round of eggs in late fall and these new nymphs will keep homeowners busy through September and even October.

Catching Signs of Chinch Bugs in Texas Turf

If you’re unlikely to spot a chinch bug in the flesh, how will you know they’re there? Keep reading for the signs to look for and methods to use to identify a chinch bug infestation.

Dead Spots in Healthy Lawns

As we’ve mentioned already, chinch bugs don’t just nest in turf grass. They eat it, and the first thing most homeowners will notice are unusual new dead spots in their otherwise healthy lawns. These spots are easy to mistake for other problems like common turf diseases, but there’s one key difference.

Chinch bug populations will populate one small area of your lawn and eat the healthy grass until there’s not much left to enjoy. Then, they’ll migrate a few inches away from that dead spot to start creating a new one. If one isolated dead spot becomes a cluster of dead spots, you’re probably hosting a chinch bug infestation.

The Movement Test

There are a few ways to take out the guesswork when you start to notice those dead spots. One of them is the simple movement test. First, locate a fresh dead spot on your lawn.

You’re going to examine the areas that are a few inches away from that dead spot. Use your hands to part a bunch of turf grass and stare down toward the soil for 30 seconds. If you see movement, you’re probably looking at a colony of tiny chinch bugs.

The Coffee Can Test

If you don’t want to spend a weekend afternoon coming into direct contact with chinch bugs, we have a less hands-on approach to detect them. You’re going to need a metal tube like an empty coffee can with the top and bottom completely removed. Once again, find a dead spot and head a few inches away from it.

Place the coffee can against the ground so that the open bottom is flush with the soil. Then, fill the coffee can with water (and a drop of dish soap, although this isn’t necessary to get the job done). After a few minutes, you’ll notice chinch bugs floating to the surface of the water if you’ve located the infestation.

Treating Chinch Bug Infestations

If you’re pretty certain that your ailing lawn has become the site of a chinch bug infestation, it’s time to take action. Here are the services to look for to get your healthy lawn back.

Professional Chinch Bug Treatment

Because chinch bugs are so small and cause such rapid damage, we don’t recommend going the DIY route. Chinch bugs aren’t the most common pest you’ll find in Texas, and not all store-bought pest treatments will target them or their hard-to-reach eggs.

Instead, partner with a lawn care company that also offers pest control treatment, like Coastal Green. As turf experts, we know the best methods to get rid of chinch bugs for the rest of the season and prevent them from returning next spring.

Turf Restoration

Because chinch bugs tend to destroy the grass they consume, you’re going to need some damage control. Turf restoration services can include a combination of reseeding, fertilizing, aeration, and weed control to ensure that your new grass takes root before weeds can.

At Coastal Green, we’ll knock out your pest problem before restoring your turf. That way, we’re not simply offering up a buffet to your lawn’s unwelcome guests.

Call Coastal Green for Chinch Bug Treatment

Though they aren’t the most common lawn pests in the state, chinch bugs and Texas turf have made serious waves this year. If you believe you have a chinch bug problem in the Houston area, Coastal Green can help.

Our goal is to offer exceptional customer service and bring your lawn to its full potential. Contact us to schedule your pest control and lawn care services.

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Myrna Gutierrez

“ Myrna Gutierrez is at the core of Coastal Green Turf Management, driving the company’s success in providing top-tier turf management services. Her expertise in creating and maintaining vibrant, healthy green spaces has established Coastal Green as a leader in its field. Myrna’s commitment to sustainable practices ensures that every project promotes ecological balance while achieving the aesthetic and functional goals of clients. Coastal Green Turf Management is dedicated to transforming landscapes into lush, green environments that clients can enjoy for years to come.”