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Fighting Chinch Bugs on Alberta Lawns

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

Bentgrass, ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Fine Fescue varieties remain a hearty cool-season favorite among Alberta homeowners planting new lawns. These varieties thrive in the summers in the province. But once temperatures rise regularly into the 20s (Celsius), most grass types grown in the region are prey to the chinch bug. With proper lawn care come springtime, you can fight back.

Chinch bugs are flying insects that produce larvae that nest in the stems of your grass. Typically, they'll fly in from nearby Alberta prairie areas, golf courses, or other infected lawns and set up housekeeping in your neighborhood. They drop their sharp beaks into your lawn and start gulping down nutrients.
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Adult Chinch bugs are black with white wings, and grow to about a fifth of an inch in length. In the first two weeks they visit, Chinch bug queens will lay up to 500 eggs in your lawn and the party is on. They love sun-lit areas, and that's where you'll find the brown halos with a yellowish ring where the lawn has been strip-mined of nutrients.

Thatch Removal and Lawn Insecticides Are Key

Since DDT was heaped on Chinch bungs in the 1950s, these highly adaptive insects have developed powerful tolerances to everything homeowners have sprayed on them. Lawn care experts now feel that Talstar is the most effective insecticide. Be sure to water the lawn really well before and after you apply any insecticide.

Since the bugs often over-winter in high thatch, annual thatch removal is one key in keeping down spring infestations. And using a relatively low amount of nitrogen will also keep them at bay, since they really prefer lawns with high nitrogen content.

Keep vigilant. Chinch bugs can produce two to four generations of young hatchlings a year.


About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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