Name: Blissus ssp.

Alias: Chinch bug. The adults are a reddish-brown color and are usually less than a quarter-inch long. Their small size and attraction to the lower parts of plants makes them difficult to spot when scouting. Their wings are a lighter color than the rest of their body. They feed using their piercing-sucking mouthparts. Nymphs look like the adults but are lighter in color and lack wings. Adults can be seen in late spring, but damage isn’t noticeable until mid-summer. They are a very sociable pest that tends to accumulate in sporadic groups across a turf or field.

Crimes: Chinch bugs have a particular appetite for grasses, which includes lawns, pastures and grain crops. They tend to feed on the crown of the plant, which causes significant damage. Once they feed on the grass, it becomes yellow and dies. Once a plant or a field has been damaged, they move onto greener pastures (pun intended). Crops that are experiencing drought are usually more dramatically affected.

Redeeming Qualities: None known.

Sentence: Common insecticides are often used to control chinch bugs such as Warrior II or Tombstone, but they are not labeled for use on all crops. Most often control is not merited unless populations are extremely high. Populations rarely reach such levels in a healthy crop, so a strong vigorous stand is your best defense. Be sure to always read and follow label instructions whenever applying a pesticide.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-745-6685 or email jsagers@uidaho.edu.