Chinch bugs are parasitic insects that feed off of and eventually kill plant life. They are very small and, left untreated, can cause a lot of damage to a lawn. However, if the appropriate precautions are taken, chinch bugs can be managed and the damage they cause can be minimal. Chinch bug is a general term used to refer to three different species within the Lygaeidae family. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on the sap of grass plants. The chinch bug can be a major insect pest on home lawns throughout the country.
Chinch bugs are easy to recognize, but hard to see. The adult chinch bugs are about 1/5 inch long with black bodies and white wings folded across their backs. Adult have a gray-black body with fine hairs, white wings, and reddish legs. It takes chinch bugs about four to six weeks to mature. Nymphs range in size from 1/32 to 1/5 inch. They have a telltale white stripe across their bodies. The wings rest flat over the back of the insect and there is a black spot between the wings. Adults may be long-winged or short-winged. Young nymphs are about half the size of a pinhead - they start out orange red in color with a pale whitish band across their abdomens. As they molt through the five ensuring growth stages, nymphs gradually change color from red to orange to black and develop wing pads as they develop into adults.