Even in parts of the south, winter won’t let go of its grip. Several insects are showing activity. Imported Fire Ants, chinch bugs and turfgrass mites. We will cover chinch bugs here.
Chinch bugs have a simple life cycle, meaning they develop from eggs to nymphs and then to the adult. The nymph and the adult appear very similar, but the adult may have wings and be different in color.
The nymph is bright orange in color and much smaller in size then the adults.
Chinch bugs have multiple instars, but feed at all stages with the nymph feeding most actively. Chinch bugs have piercing sucking mouth parts. The insect inserts its stylet into the leaf cells and injects a toxin to break down the cell walls and then the insect sucks up the cell contents.
The toxin in the cells turns the turf an orange color where the insects are most actively feeding. This change of color can be used as a diagnostic tool for detecting piercing sucking insect activity. Chinch bugs have multiple generations per year and all instar stages can be found at any one time.
These insects can be found in the turf by opening up the turf and looking into the thatch. Initially the insects will freeze and not be active. In time, they will start to move and become more noticeable. Damage from piercing sucking insects is harder to recover from due to the foreign toxin being injected into the plants.
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Technical Services Manager, Certified Professional Agronomist