Field Guide     Pest Management     Chinch Bug

Chinch Bug

CROPS IMPACTED: alfalfa, wheat, corn and sorghum fields

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Family: Lygaeidae

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About Chinch Bug

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Adult chinch bugs overwinter in protected turf grass. Once the temperature reaches 7˚C, they wake up from hibernation and begin to mate. About 2 weeks after, they begin laying eggs on roots and leaf sheaths of host grasses. One female chinch bug can lay up to 20 eggs per day for a minimum of 3 weeks. The time of hatching will vary depending on when they are laid, but typically start in early spring to the beginning of summer. Once the eggs hatch, nymphs are released and immediately start feeding. Nymphs go through 5 development stages, also known as instars, and grow larger with each stage, becoming more similar to an adult chinch bug and progressively more mobile; however, they cannot fly. Depending on the temperature, it takes between 4 to 6 weeks for chinch bugs to reach the adult stage. In late summer, early fall adults seek out hibernation for the winter.

Chinch Bug Identification, Varieties and Habitat

Identification

Adult chinch bugs are dark brown or red with white wings and are about 3 to 4mm in length. They have a black line running diagonally toward their head and a distinctive black spot near the edge of their forewings. There are 2 kinds of chinch bugs, one has short wings and is unable to fly and the other is a long winged insect that has the capability to fly. The eggs that these females produce are less than 1mm long and are first white, then turn to a yellow and finally change to a bright orange right before hatching. The new born nymphs are about 1mm long and bright red with a white band across their middle. As the nymphs go through the 5 instars stages they change from red to orange to brown and then to black.

Varieties

  • - Hairy chinch bug (Blissus hirtus)
  • - False chinch bug (Nysius ericae)

Habitat

Chinch bugs like to spend the winter months in flixweed, wheat, and many other common weeds that can be found in and around alfalfa, corn and sorghum fields. Once the weather warms up chinch bugs feed on turf grass, lettuce and many plants in the mustard family by sucking the sap from plants. Their feeding does not seem to be very destructive; however, thousands of chinch’s can often live on a single plant. This will wilt the leaves and dieback may occur when the plant is under stress.

Chinch Bug Control Methods

Cultural Control

Chinch bugs overwinter in mats of old grass and other organic material and thrive in dry, warm weather. If the thatch is more than 1cm thick, rake to remove some of the grass. If grass has died, reseed infested areas with perennial rye grass or Dutch white clover. You may also want to plant shrubs, trees or some form of ground cover for shade. Watering infested areas early in the morning with about 1 inch of water once a week can be quite effective. Chinch bugs also have some natural enemies which include lacewings, ladybugs and tiny wasps. If you create an attractive environment for these insects, they will efficiently control chinches. If you are dealing with chinch bug infestation in crop fields do not plant a winter wheat cover crop. This will create a good environment for the chinch bugs to hibernate over the winter. If you are looking for a winter cover crop, legumes would be a safer option.

Chemical Control

If you are looking for an easy chemical control of chinch bugs, apply 2 tablespoons of dish soap to 2 gallons of water and with a sprinkler drench the infested area. If the infestation is large, attaching a hose bottle with dish soap in it and water area is just as effective. Next, you can lay cloth such as an old bed sheet over the infested area and wait 15 to 20 minutes; chinch bugs should be attached to the fabric. Then put the fabric into a bucket filled with soapy water. If you already have dead patches of grass, you will find the majority of chinch bug on the line where the living grass starts.

There are several insecticides that can be sprayed along the edge of corn and sorghum fields. Once nymphs have started moving into small grain fields, be prepared to make numerous applications of insecticides on the rows nearest the small grain and all other infested areas. None of the recommended chemicals are active for more than 2 or 3 days. Applying a foliar insecticide in July or August for second generation chinch nymph’s control can be effective. The best time to apply insecticides in the summer time is before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Be sure to carefully read the label for cautions and proper application. It is extremely important to never spray on days that are windy.

Latin / Alternative Chinch Bug Names

  • - Blissus leucopterus

Sources

http://www.stratfordcanada.ca/en/livehere/fs-chinchbugs.asp

http://versicolor.ca/lawns/sec2.html