Monday, September 13, 2010

Although we still have three months before the end of the year, I am going to have to go out on a limb and give the 2010 Pest of the Year Award in the Insect Division to no other than ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug!’ Since a few weeks ago when I wrote about my thriftiness, I was reminded of a few situations by family and friends that needed to be mentioned in my column.

Armyworms were bad this year; however, they are easy to see, easy to identify the damage, and easy to kill. The chinch bug is about impossible to see (about the size of fine ground pepper), the damage can be confused between fungi, dry areas, and just dead areas and although they are easy to kill once identified, the chinch bug keeps coming back.

I was riding through a neighborhood over the weekend and ever St. Augustine grass lawn had some chinch bug damage. In the old days (Dursban, Diazinon), you could put out a product in May and pretty much control chinch bugs for the season. Now depending on the product, if you get two to three weeks control you are lucky. Most of the products work on the adults and do not affect the eggs that are waiting to hatch.

There are a lot of cases of resistance to certain control products in Florida, so be sure to rotate chemical families of your products (not just product names). Since some of our sod comes up from Florida, we will most likely experience these resistant chinch bugs before long. If you talked to some of the people I talk to, you would swear they are already here.

‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’ got this designation from attacking family’s lawns during the summer while families were taking their summer vacation. The fact that this very small insect and a lot of its buddies can wipe out a beautiful yard in a very short period of time is ruthless. Hard to control weeds like bermudagrass and Virginia button weed always seem to move in on the weaken areas.

There is a fungus in the soil that controls chinch bugs. We had a wet winter, and then it got super dry. When it dried out the fungus in the soil that keeps chinch bugs in check died. When the fungus died, the chinch bugs went crazy. The reason you see chinch bugs along the road, driveway, sidewalks or in the sunniest part of the yard is because that is where the fungus dies out first. Chinch bugs rarely attack grass in the shade because the fungus keeps them in check.

Since chinch bugs attack the grass along the road, driveway, and sidewalks, when people treat for them, they often throw product on hard impermeable surfaces (roads, driveways, and sidewalks). Always be sure to sweep or blow any particles back into the grass to avoid any unwanted runoff. This particular runoff situation would be another reason to refer to this pest as ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug!’

Well, it looks like I’m about to run out of column inches, so I can only mention two items of me being the cheapest person in the world. I only had three TV channels until recently when they had that switch over and you had to get cable or use the box. I was informed that our TV too old to use the box (might have been an in-house conspiracy to get cable and a new TV). I have not purchased a shirt since the beginning of my time. All my shirts have Possum’s or a manufacturer of a product I sell name on them. I got my hunting camo’s with points from a Cabela’s card. Other shirts were presents.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.