harvesting sweet potatoes

Southern Chinch Bug

The southern chinch bug is the most important insect pest of St. Augustinegrass in Florida, but may also feed on other turfgrasses and weeds. Adults are about 3/16 inch long and are black with white patches on the wings. The young (nymphs) range from 1/16 inch long to nearly adult size. Small nymphs are reddish-orange with a white band across the back, but older nymphs and adults have black bodies. They live in the thatch and suck fluids from the crowns, stems and stolons with their needle-like mouthparts. Infested grass turns yellow, then a burnt-reddish color, and dies. Chinch bugs tend to feed in groups, so dead patches of grass appear and seem to get larger as the insects spread through the grass. Severe damage tends to occur from March through November in southern Florida and from April through October in northern Florida.