You may not know chinch bugs by name, but odds are you’ve seen their effects without knowing the true identity of the culprits. Most commonly found in the South, chinch bugs can turn beautifully kept St. Augustine grass lawns into spotty disasters. Seemingly stricken by drought, your grass will transform from vibrant green to a sad yellow-brown. And it’s all due to this little critter.

The chinch bug, usually measuring no longer than 6mm, thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. With warm and damp summer months, each of the southern states, particularly Florida, provides the perfect place to call home.

They feed on individual blades of grass, leaching the sap from the plant as it grows. This behavior continues until the grass becomes dry and, to top it all off, the bug injects a toxin that kills even the toughest lawn.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect our chinch bug problems to disappear when winter rolls around. Many of them remain active through the winter months, and those that do overwinter take refuge and shelter in the roots and base of the grass. They aren’t forced to relocate and are able to pick up right where they left off in the spring.

It’s relatively easy to find out if you have a chinch bug infestation. One tried and true method is known as the tin can, or flotation, method. Simply locate a good-sized can (a coffee can will do just fine), and cut out the two ends to create what looks like a tube. Push one end of your new tube about three inches into the ground – in an area you believe to be affected by chinch bugs – and fill it with water. Allow the water to sit for 5-10 minutes. If you see small bugs floating on top of the water at the end of that time, those are probably chinch bugs.

While finding chinch bugs can be easy, eliminating them takes a bit more work. Florida Pest Control’s Smart Choice 4 for 3 treatment plan may be just what you need to protect your lawn from these pests and others.