How do I know if I have chinch bugs? Do the “coffee can test” to be sure. Remove both ends of a standard coffee can.  Insert one end of the can into the ground at the very edge of the damage. This leaves the “inside” of the can with a mostly damaged turf. Press the can two inches into the soil and leave about least four inches above the ground.  Fill the can with water and wait about five minutes.  If chinch bugs are present, then they will float to the surface of the water.  To treat, apply a grub and insect control and water it immediately.  Or try an organic insect control, but do not water it.  Repeat this treatment one more time next year (in July) as a preventative.

The chinch bug feeds by biting grass leaves and draining the sap until the plant dies. You will see a color change from yellow, then to brown, and finally to grey, the latter means death for the plant. Chinch bugs will continue to move outward and destroy other plants as they move.  Lawns under stressful environments are more susceptible to chinch bug damage. Grass stress includes dull mower blades, poor soil, excessive rain, and drought. Thatch build-up also causes chinch bug infestation.  Thatch (an area between the base of the grass and the top of the soil which contain leaves that have not fully decayed) and other debris can accumulate in the soil over time. Compaction usually causes thatch.  Applying a natural soil food will loosen the soil and help decrease the thatch layer.