The most challenging insects with St Augustine grass in Florida are Southern Chinch bugs. They cause large brown patches on lawns, poison root systems, and kill grass. More bad news is that they are increasing in population and becoming resistant to many grass pesticides. This makes lawn care maintenance even more of a headache.
This is what Chinch bugs look like:
And here’s an example of the damage they can cause:
Chinch bugs are attracted by thick mats of grass in open, sunny areas. As already mentioned, they most commonly infest St Augustine grass, but they do go for Bahia, Zoysia, Pangola, and Torpedo grasses, and sometimes Bermuda.
The adults are black, oval-shaped with shiny white wings, and are about one-sixth of an inch in length. Each wing has a triangular black mark. People often mistake them for big-eyed bugs.
They populate in concentrated areas near the soil surface and, with needle-like mouth parts, the nymphs extract grass juices. This is what damages lawns. When Chinch bugs feed on St Augustine grass, they destroy blades and runners. As they feed, yellow spots appear, which soon become brown. When the grass dies, the bugs move to the periphery of the dead parts, causing these areas to get even bigger.
Damage by Chinch bugs is at its highest during summer when dry, hot conditions exist. The most effective way of controlling these critters is to have regular lawn care maintenance by a professional. Severe infestations can be prevented through early detection and treatment.