Hairy Chinch Bugs

Hairy chinch bug outbreaks have been observed on private properties in some areas of the city. These insects attack the grass and can quickly destroy your lawn. A variety of actions can be taken to remedy the situation.

Life cycle of chinch bugs

Several factors can contribute to an infestation of chinch bugs: the amount of chemical fertilizer, lack of biodiversity, grass height, lack of moisture, soil type and amount of stubble on your lawn. In the spring, towards the end of May, but mainly in June, the adult chinch bug lays its eggs in the grass. The egg laying period lasts about three weeks and each female lays 20 eggs per day. It may take two weeks after the eggs have hatched before damage becomes noticeable. By the end of July, all the insects have reached adulthood and have become more resistant. During the fall, adults find shelter for the winter under hedges, near buildings, beneath tree bark and organic debris, etc., and then return in force for spawning in the spring.

Treatments

Four treatments are available to get rid of chinch bugs. In all cases, the treatment must be carried out across an area that is greater than just the infested area. All treatments are most effective when insects are still young, either in June or early July.

Vacuuming

The use of industrial vacuum cleaners (such as Shop-Vac) is very effective for catching bugs at all stages of their lives. You can adding soapy water to the inside of the vacuum cleaner to kill the insects as they are sucked in, but it is not necessary. This method can help reduce the degree of infestation.

Soapy water

Soap-based mixtures should be applied three times with a five-day interval between applications. You can use a store-bought blend (e.g. insecticidal soap from End All) or make your own homemade blend. In general, it should be applied with water, when the outdoor temperature is not too hot, and early in the morning or at the end of the day. If you are making your own mixture, be sure to use dish soap (such as Dawn dishwashing detergent) and not dishwashing liquid, which will not be effective. It is suggested to use a concentration of 50 to 100 ml per litre of water and apply in the late afternoon when the insects are out.

Nematodes

Nematodes are small worms that parasitize unwanted insects and die when they have nothing left to parasitize. They can be purchased in stores and applied on a lawn to kill chinch bugs. They should be mixed with water and applied to an already wet lawn. Apply them when there are between 25 and 30 insects per square foot. Be careful, there are nematodes to eliminate white grubs and they are not the same as those used for chinch bugs. Check the packaging to make sure that the nematodes you use are effective against chinch bugs.

Strong pesticides

The use of strong pesticides such as DeltaGard or End All  are prohibited in Vaudreuil-Dorion. If you wish to use strong pesticide, you must absolutely obtain a temporary permit from the Permits and Inspections Division, which you can reach by e-mail at 450-455-3371, option 5. As specified in By-law  1556:

"To obtain a permit, the applicant must demonstrate at his own expense that the situation identified constitutes an infestation and that he has exhausted all recognized and environmentally friendly alternative methods, including the use of low-impact pesticides, in order to prevent such an infestation. The competent authority must confirm the infestation before a temporary pesticide application permit is issued.”

Obtaining a permit for treatment

If you wish to obtain a watering permit for soap or nematode products or a temporary pesticide application permit, you should contact the Permits and Inspections Division by e-mail or at 450 455-3371, option 5.

The watering permit for the application of soap products will provide you with the authorization to water according to the following schedule:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Cut the grass to
5 cm,

water,
treatment with soapy water

Water only to moisten the soil

Water only to moisten the soil

Water only to moisten the soil

 

Cut the grass to
5 cm,

water,
treatment with soapy water

Water only to moisten the soilv

Day 8  Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14

Water only to moisten the soil

Water only to moisten the soil

 

Cut the grass to
5 cm,

water,
treatment with soapy water

Water only to moisten the soil

Water only to moisten the soil

Water only to moisten the soil

What to do next spring?

Next spring, be prepared to act early (around mid-May) to counter any chinch bug infestations.

The following test may be carried out to check for infestation:

  • Remove both ends of a large tin can and push it 5 cm (2 inches) into the grass.
  • Fill the can with soapy water, adding water if the level drops.
  • Wait 5 to 10 minutes. If there are any chinch bugs present they will soon float to the surface of the water.
  • Repeat the operation at different locations across the lawn, including the edges. If you can count between 5 and 10 bugs every time, the infestation is severe enough to damage the lawn.
  • Remember to repeat the operation throughout the following weeks.

Contact your neighbours so you can work together to control the infestation. Bugs do not recognize property boundaries.

If you need to apply DeltaGard, make sure you have proof of any previous treatments carried out in the same year. A City employee will have to visit your property again in the spring to confirm the infestation.

In the fall, and especially in the spring, start any repairs to your property. Keep in mind the factors that help a lawn stay healthy and insect-resistant:

  • Leave the grass high (at least 7.5 cm or 3 inches).
  • Plant trees to provide shade for the lawn.
  • Plant chinch bug-resistant grass varieties (containing endophytes).
  • Keep stubble levels low, either by aerating or ploughing.
  • Use natural fertilizers such as compost. Keep in mind that these fertilizers are offered for free In May during the Horticultural Fair.
  • Encourage the growth of biodiversity on your lawn: clover, trefoil, thyme.  Chinch bugs only eat grasses.
  • Check your lawn regularly to prevent major infestations.
  • Replace grass with flowerbeds in very sunny areas.

Questions?

For more information about chinch bugs, contact the Environment Department by e-mail or at 450 455-3371, option 1.