There exists several chinch bug species within the United States, and they are one of the most common groups of insect pests to lawns. Different chinch bug species prefer to feed on different types of grass, but some species are more damaging than others. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is home to one of the most damaging chinch bug species, which is known as Blissus hirtus, or the hairy chinch bug, as they are commonly known. This species is capable of feeding on a variety of grasses, even centipede grass, which is well known for being resistant to most types of insect damage. However, the hairy chinch bug prefers to feed on rye grass and fescues. This insect species feeds on grass in numerous locations all over Massachusetts including parks, vacant lots, industrial parks, and most notably, on residential lawns.
The hairy chinch bug is a tiny insect, as they grow to be no larger than one fifth of an inch in body length. Adults of this species possess black and white markings on their wings while nymphs possess a similar body shape but are wingless and are covered with red or orange markings. This species kills grass one blade at a time by inserting their straw-like mouthparts into a blade of grass in order to suck out the juices. The first sign of chinch bug damage appears as a small area of discolored grass, but as their enormous population within a yard continues to spread, large areas of a lawn will become brown in color. Eventually, this damage can cover a majority or the entirely of a residential lawn. Hairy chinch bugs are also notable for killing centipede grass, which most other chinch bugs and lawn pests are unable to pull-off. When it comes to centipede grass, hairy chinch bug damage will turn the grass from apple green to a yellowish brown color. Chinch bug populations within a yard can be controlled with professional grade insecticides.
Have you ever noticed a patch of discolored grass within your lawn?