The Q&A Archives: Chinch bug destruction

Question: Last year chinch bugs ruined almost a quarter of our very small lawn. To top it off we then got a lab mix puppy. What do you suggest to fill in the dead grass / dirt spots that won't attract the dog and more bugs?

Answer: A well fertilized and nutrient-rich area can withstand a chinch bug attack. Thus, good lawn care is the best prevention against chinch bug damage. Understanding chinch bugs, the conditions they favour and their life cycle is very helpful in control. Keep the lawn well fertilized and take caution not to add too much or too little nitrogen. Use proper mowing techniques which include cutting grass two to four inches high, removing thatch, maintaining proper moisture levels, avoiding water buildup, aerating the lawn if it is compacted and using a resistant variety of grass. If physical methods are not effective, use a pesticide which will have a minimal impact on both you and the environment. Use an insecticidal soap spray on areas where damage has occurred. Diatomaceous earth can also be used to control chinch bugs. Diatomaceous earth is an insecticidal dust which acts as an abrasive. It cuts the outer layer of the chinch bug's body causing it to dehydrate and then die. Products containing pyrethrin can also be used. All are harmless to pets and people. As for fixing the dead spots in your lawn, begin by raking and removing the dead grass, then reseeding the areas. If you can't keep your puppy off the newly reseeded areas until they fill in, you may have to place pieces of chicken wire over the seeded areas to prevent digging. Anchor them in well so your pup can't move them. The chicken wire should keep the grass seed safe until the grass grows thick enough to withstand puppy paws. Be sure to remove the wire and anchors before the first mowing! Best wishes with your lawn!

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