How to Kill, Control & Prevent Chinch Bugs

If your grass looks parched and dead despite your best efforts, this elusive pest could be the cause.

What Chinch Bugs Look Like

Chinch bugs are easy to recognize but hard to see.

  • Adults are about ⅕ inch long with black bodies and white wings folded across their backs.
  • Nymphs start out yellow, then turn red as they grow, eventually becoming black as they reach maturity.
  • Chinch bugs mature in about 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Telltale white stripe across their bodies.

To Chinch Bugs, Your Lawn Is Dinner

You do everything right. You water your lawn regularly. You feed it when you're supposed to. Yet, here and there, you have what looks like drought damage. If you live in the south and have St. Augustinegrass or zoysiagrass, you could be entertaining a whole troop of chinch bugs. These nasty little critters suck your grass blades dry. Then they inject a poison that kills them. They can kill patches or your entire lawn. But you can get even.

A lawn with many brown patches

Prevention and Maintenance

Identify Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs don't exactly tap you on the shoulder and introduce themselves. You have to look for them.

If you don't see them when you get down on your hands and knees in your lawn, try the tin can method.

  • Cut out both ends of a tin can, making a tube.
  • Push one end of your tube into the ground.
  • Pour water into the can and keep it filled for 10 minutes.

If you have chinch bugs, they'll start floating up to the surface. You may also see chinch-bug nymphs, which range from pink to red and have a white stripe across their midsection.

Recognize Chinch Bug Damage

Grass attacked by chinch bugs looks like grass suffering from drought. Along your driveway and sidewalks, your grass blades wilt, turn yellow-brown, then dry out and die. If you've checked for chinch bugs and are still not sure you have them, call a professional.

Kill and Prevent Chinch Bugs

If you know you have chinch bugs, you can control them by treating your lawn with Ortho® Bugclear™ Lawn Insect Killer. The formula kills chinch bugs and other listed insects by contact, above and below the soil, and creates a bug barrier in your lawn for 3 months. Granules can be applied to your lawn, around your foundation, and on flower and vegetable gardens (on listed vegetables). Be sure to follow all label instructions.