This true bug sucks sap from grasses; it’s attracted to poorly grown lawns. Chinch bugs start out pinhead-size and bright red, with a white band across the back; they darken as they mature, eventually becoming black, ⅛ inch long bugs with white wings. Don’t confuse this pest with its natural enemy, the predaceous big-eyed bug: the faster moving predator is wider and has prominent eyes.
Target: Lawn grasses, corn, and other grasses.
Damage: Afflicted plants wither and dry out. Dead lawn remains firmly rooted.
Life cycle: Adults overwinter in tall grass or debris. When the weather warms in spring, they lay eggs on the grass or in the soil. There are one to seven generations a year.
Notes: To see if chinch bugs are present, remove both ends from a large can; then push it into the ground and fill it with water. Let stand for 10 minutes, then check—the bugs will have floated to the top. Before treating, water the lawn to bring bugs to the surface. No treatment is needed if the bugs you see are coated with a gray, cottony material—they’re infected with a fungus.