Chinch Bugs in Iowa

July 12, 2018

In recent weeks there have been a few sightings of Chinch bugs in Iowa. The lawn in the pictures is in Cedar Rapids. Typically damage is in open sunny locations in the yard. These insects can be present in great numbers in the yard over 150 per square foot. In this yard both the nymphs and adults were present. The adult is very small, and they are often found in the thatch of the yard. Adults are about 1/6 of an inch long with white wings that fold over their back flat. On the wing is a small black triangular spot. The nymphs are smaller than a pinhead and are a red color with a white band on the back. Chinch bug damage will happen in June through August, and often is not noticed due to coinciding with drought conditions in lawns. Both the nymph and adult will feed on the turfgrass, and they tend to feed on all typical species used in lawns. 

Figure 1. Chinch bug damage in a lawn
Figure 1. Chinch bug damage in a lawn in Cedar Rapids in late June.

Figure 2. Adult chinch bug, notice the wings laying flat on the back
Figure 2. Adult chinch bug, notice the flat wings and distinctive pattern on the back.

Figure 3. Chinch bug nymph in a Iowa lawn
Figure 3. Chinch bug nymph with its distinctive red color and very small size. Often found in the thatch layer. 

Figure 4. Turfgrass damaged and yellow colored from chinch bug feeding
Figure 4. Chinch bug damage on turfgrass, notice the yellow color from the toxins released by the chinch bugs feeding on the plant.

 

 

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Author(s): 

Adam Thoms Assistant Professor

Adam Thoms, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor specializing in Commercial Turfgrass Management, Iowa State University, Department of Horticulture, Ames, IA. Dr. Thoms received his B.S. from Iowa State University, and both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Sciences and Plants, Soils, and Insec...