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How To KILL Chinch Bugs Before They DESTROY Your Lawn

Chinch bug

      The silent killers from the East have unfortunately found their way to the West. The hairy, black, white and orange spotted insect known as the chinch bug has arrived and they’re not the type of visitors you want lingering. Chinch bugs become more active and start becoming a problem in June and persist greatly into July and August as the temperatures start increasing and rain is less frequent. Once active, lawns can be completely destroyed within a matter of weeks to the point where repairs aren’t possible, and a complete re-sodding / landscaping must take place.

      This blog will help us catch and deal with these bugs before they deliver a punch that most Canadians consider to be unrecoverable financially. Chinch bugs unfortunately do not die in the winter just from the cold. They freeze and hibernate during the cold months and thaw and come back to life like Han Solo from Star Wars once things warm up. Naturally, because of this we need to take matters into our own hands to control chinch bugs on your calgary lawn.


How Do Chinch Bugs Kill Your Lawn?


     It’s not the chinch themselves that are the problem, rather it’s what they eat. They are sap-sucking insects. They require the nutrients found in sugary sap. Their vegetation of choice is grass and in particular, red fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, which make up over 80% of the lawns in Canada and cool-season climates.

After literally sucking the life out of the crown and stem of turf grass, they inject a toxin which kills the remaining plant (way to kick someone while they’re down…)


How Do I Know If I Have Chinch Bugs In My Lawn?


      The result? Brown or yellow, dried and dead patches begin appearing across your lawn. A spot here and there today may end up being a 1–8-meter patch which eventually spreads until your entire lawn is dead. The damage becomes more apparent in hot weather as that’s when the bugs become very active. The mistake most homeowners make is that they assume this is a watering / dryness problem when in reality there is a sub-surface feeding frenzy going on that’s taking all of the cake and eating it too.

Unsure You Have Chinch Bugs - Let Us Diagnose The Issue

      It's worth double checking to see if your lawn does have chinch bugs. Here are two DIY methods you can use to diagnose the issue:

The Scrape And Inspect Method

  1. Time to get down to business. Get on all fours and with your fingertips or a small hand rake, scratch back the dry area of concern.
  2. Dethatch the area until you start ripping out some of the grass roots and take a look at the soil surface area.
  3. Are there small, 4mm long black bugs with white spotted wings crawling around? We have a problem


The Coffee Tin Method

  1. Cut the bottom off of a container of coffee and really push it down into the grass so that the edges go into the soil about 5cm in depth
  2. Pour in the water so that the container fills up to be about 70% full
  3. Hang out for 5-10 minutes and watch to see if chinch bugs start floating up to the surface of the water
  4. Do this in all areas of concern, but also in areas that don’t appear to be infected yet just to see if the problem has spread or if it can still be mitigated


What Do I Do If I Know I Have Chinch Bugs?


      If you live in South Calgary and you think you have chinch bugs, you’re probably right. Calgary’s north quadrant hasn’t been hit yet for the most part, but Southeast Calgary has been worsening every year since 2015. What’s worse is that, like having weeds on your lawn, your problem can soon become your neighbours problem. The only difference is the impact of chinch bugs are significantly worse than just having some dandelions spread because it can require someone to completely resod their lawn ($3,000-8,000 on average in damage costs occurred).

      If you have chinch bugs, don’t wait, get them controlled immediately because resodding a lawn isn’t just taking out grass and putting new grass in.

We Recommend Hiring A Company To Professionally Treat It Because:

  1. Off the shelf products from the local hardware store target a variety of insects and aren’t designed specifically for chinch bugs
  2. Retail products typically come in 4L jugs for about $35 CAD and only cover a couple hundred square feet, while your lawn is usually a couple thousand in size
  3. DIY products will be diluted and residential grade, therefore much less effective than the commercial products a local lawn care or pest control company has access to
  4. Overapplying the product will kill your grass while underapplying it will not be sufficient to kill the chinch bugs (it’s a fine line)
  5. It’s safe to let a certified professional with the proper safety equipment handle this. Insecticides consist of using strong chemicals. It’s best you don’t mess with these

      The good news is that one commercial application of chinch bug treatment typically controls 90% of the existing infestation. A follow up application should happen 2-4 weeks after the first to seal the deal.

Let A Lawn Specialist Diagnose The Issue



How Much Does Chinch Bug Control Cost?


      A two-application program of chinch bug control will cost about $280 and will solve 99% of chinch bug problems. Once bugs are controlled, they rarely come back as they are territorial by nature and prefer migrating to new areas.

      The more important question is: How much does it cost if I don’t take care of my Chinch Bug problem? The answer ranges as at first it may just be doing some spot repair, but if you sweep this issue under the rug, chinch bugs may take over your entire lawn. Resodding a lawn is extremely expensive. Here’s the general breakdown:

Re-sodding Estimate For 2,000 sqft Lawn (Average Lawn Size In Calgary)

  1. Scrape away all existing sod and 10-inch if topsoil with a skid steer
  2. Haul all materials to the dump (extremely expensive as it’s $120 per ton and sod is very heavy)
  3. Relevel yard with 1 inch of new topsoil
  4. Re sod
  5. Water thoroughly for 2 weeks daily

Estimated price: $6,000 + gst


Is Chinch Bug Control Safe?


      Yes, it is but like anything in life it comes with precautions. We typically don’t recommend homeowners do their own pest control even though there are products available. Professionals are certified, know what they’re doing, have been educated on the applications and have the safety tools needed to execute a safe and effective treatment.

      After an application of chinch bug treatment, keep pets, yourself, and children off the lawn for the rest of the day. Once dried, the product isn’t toxic to non-insects but it’s always wise to take additional steps to keep your yard safe.

      There is no need to water your lawn after a chinch bug application. Avoid watering the lawn also for the rest of the day. If it rains shortly after an application, it should still be effective, but it’s worth having a follow up appointment about 2-3 weeks after the initial application.


The 4 Secrets To Preventing Chinch Bugs From Invading Your Lawn In The Future


  1. Mow your lawn consistently. About every ten days and keep the length at the ideal 2-2.5 inches long
  2. Ensure your lawn gets enough water every week. 1 inch of water is recommended takes about 30 minutes under a sprinkler
  3. Aerate annually. Every Fall we recommend aerating as it disrupts their environment. Aerating in the Spring is also an option, however doing it then rather than the Fall does yield greater weed germination
  4. Avoid liquid fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer has high-nitrogen fast release properties which actually give the chinch bugs the ideal living situations. Instead, stick to granular organic slow-release types of fertilizer
  5. Checkup on the problem early. Don’t let an existing problem get worse. If you’re your looks like it’s developing dry patches despite getting tons of rain, do our DIY inspection or request a free chinch bug inspection on us.

      The bad news is that chinch bugs are nasty creatures that suck. The good news is that you CAN do something about it. Like most things in life, preventative measures cost much less than reactive action. If you seriously think chinch bugs are affecting your lawn, request our free inspection or give us a call. It’s better to be safe than sorry when so much is on the line. You work hard to maintain and enjoy a green, weed free lawn. Protect your investment and make sure there are never any unwanted pests at your party.

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