If you’re like many Austinites, you use St. Augustine grass for your landscaping because it’s drought resistant. But many St. Augustine varieties – including Bitterblue, Floratine, Delmar, Palmetto and Jade – are also susceptible to damaging infestations of a pest known as the southern chinch bug.
Adult chinches are black and oval in shape and are approximately 1/6 of an inch long. Females live two months, but lay many eggs during their lifetime. The nymphs that emerge from these eggs mature within just 4 to 5 weeks. Chinch bugs feed on St. Augustine by extracting plant juices from grass blades with their piercing beaks.
These pests typically congregate in one area of a lawn. St. Augustine grass infested with chinch bugs usually turns yellow, grows slowly and then becomes brownish-red just before it dies. Chinch bug damage occurs near the soil’s surface and is most common in sunny areas near driveways.
The way to discourage chinch bug infestations is to avoid overwatering. You should also stay away from nitrogen rich fertilizers. To help get rid of this pest, you should use insecticides that are specifically for the treatment of chinches, which you can find at your local nursery or garden center.
One thing to remember is that while you may be able to control the chinch bug population in your lawn, you’ll never entirely eliminate this pest. If you can decrease chinch bug presence by 80%, consider your efforts a success.
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