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Fact Sheets - Chinch Bugs

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Chinch bug

Pest Management Fact Sheet #5009

Chinch Bugs

James F. Dill, Pest Management Specialist
Clay A. Kirby, Insect Diagnostician

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A coffee can with both ends cut out can be used to detect the bug and the number present.  Force one end of the can into the soil, fill with water, then watch for chinch bugs to float to the top.

Chinch bugs cause serious damage in the thick turf of lawns and golf courses. Dying or dead areas of a lawn can signal the presence of this pest. Dry seasons seem to favor its spread and make its damage more noticeable. Chinch bugs tend to be more of a problem in southern Maine.

Description & Biology

The chinch bug generally produces two generations per year after over-wintering in the adult stage in plant debris, crevices, and thatch. The insect mates early in the season when the temperature reaches 70°F. The female lays eggs on roots, stems and leaves over a two to three week period. One female can lay as many as 500 eggs.

The newly hatched bugs–tiny, wingless, bright red nymphs– feed by sucking juices from roots near or at the ground surface. The young bugs turn black as they rapidly grow larger. After 40 to 50 days of voracious feeding, they reach the mature stage and develop wings. The adult chinch bug is shaped like a flattened black and white capsule and is capable of flight.  It is about 1/5 inch. Adults of the first brood usually move to a new area before mating and egg laying. 

Chinch bugs do the greatest damage from mid-summer to early fall. The first generation starts to die in early fall. The second generation hibernates at the approach of cold weather in matted clippings and debris, or in loose soil near the root zone.


A coffee can with both ends cut out can be used to detect the bug and the number present. Force one end of the can into the soil, fill with water, then watch for chinch bugs to float to the top.

Because they can fly, it is difficult to keep an area free of chinch bugs if they occur in nearby cropland. However, sanitation may reduce over-wintering sites. In addition, both liquid and granular forms of insecticides may be used. Many people prefer liquid spraying since the material must reach the crown area of the grass plant. 

The best time to apply a pesticide for chinch bug control is in early June. It is advisable, regardless of the form of insecticide used, to remove any built-up thatch before the application and use enough water to get the pesticide to the feeding zone of the insects. This is a good reason to water turf grass before treatment and water areas treated with a granular.

Chlorantraniliprole, carbaryl (Sevin), bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or imidacloprid are registered for chinch bug control. Application rates depend on the size of the area to be treated, so follow directions on the label.

When Using Pesticides


Pest Management Office
491 College Avenue, Orono, ME 04473-1295
1-800-287-0279 (in Maine)

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2010, 2013
Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Call 800-287-0274 or TDD 800-287-8957 (in Maine), or 207-581-3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit

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