Chinch Bug

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Blissus spp.

Appearance / Identification

What Do They Look Like?
Adult chinch bugs are small insects that have a hard body.

  • Color: They are distinctly colored in spotted combinations of black, white, or red. Many chinch bugs have different coloration in their early nymphal and later nymphal stages.
  • Length: Most species that cause serious crop and turf damage are only about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.
  • Wings: They have two pairs of wings that are folded over the insect’s back.

How Did I Get Chinch Bugs?

Although each variety of chinch bug prefers a specific type of grass, simply having a lawn can be enough to attract these turf pests. They prefer open areas that receive plenty of sunlight as well as lawns with:

  • Leafy debris
  • Heavy thatch
  • Piles of cut grass

How Serious Are Chinch Bugs?

Types of Damage
Most lawns see some chinch bug activity, and small populations are not cause for concern. In large numbers, the pests can kill off significant patches of turf. When feeding, chinch bugs cause grass to turn yellow and die. Severe chinch bug infestations may also damage trees and other plants.

Common Infestation Locations
Sunny locations are normally the most seriously affected, which can make homeowners think drought conditions are the culprit.

Commercial Concerns
The most destructive chinch bug species is the Blissus. They may damage wheat, corn, oats, and various kinds of turf grasses.

How Chinch Bugs Damage Plants
As the bugs feed, they inject a toxin that interferes with the plant’s ability to get moisture and nutrients from the soil. The result is wilting and damage to the plant’s tissues that are needed for survival and growth.

How Do I Get Rid of Chinch Bugs?

What Orkin Does
If you suspect chinch bug damage, contact your local Orkin branch office for sound advice and recommendations. Your pest management professional will know how to inspect for and sample your lawn to find the problem and offer solutions and expertise to execute a plan of attack.

What You Can Do
Homeowners can try these preventative measures:

  • Keep your lawn healthy – irrigate and fertilize when necessary.
  • Remove thatch – chinch bugs prefer lawns that have large amounts of thatch.

Life Cycle

Chinch bugs overwinter as adults and emerge in spring to lay eggs on their host plant or in the soil. Eggs hatch within a week and the nymphs begin feeding. Depending on the species and location, chinch bugs will complete two to three generations per year.

Species & Habitats

Where Do They Live?
Typical chinch bug habitats are agricultural crops, native grasses, weeds, and lawns. The more common species of chinch bugs and their preferred turf grasses are:

  • The Western Chinch Bug – Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, fescues and zoysia grass.
  • The Hairy Chinch Bug – Kentucky bluegrass, English ryegrass, red fescues, and bent grass.
  • The Southern Chinch Bug – St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, and centipede grass.