Buffalo Chinch Bug – Nysius occidus

Buffalo Chinch Bug: Appearance, Territory, Damage, and Life Cycle

Latin Name: Blissus Leucopterus

Appearance: There are several causes that may be wreaking havoc on your buffalograss lawns, but this time of year is often when we start to see the prevalence of chinch bugs. In Kansas, two chinch bug species may be of concern. Blissus leucopterus, the common “field” chinch bug, is predominantly an agricultural pest associated with wheat, corn, and sorghum. They occasionally move from productive fields and infest adjacent cool- or warm-season lawns. Blissus occiduus, the western chinch bug, has historically been linked with wheat, brome, and native grasses. When they became a severe issue on buffalograss lawns, they were dubbed the buffalograss chinch bug.

The southern chinch bug has a white stripe across the center of its body and is generally dark red, black, or brown in appearance. Some chinch bug species have two distinct white spots on their backs. They are normally four millimeters long (approximately one-tenth of an inch), which is roughly the size of the tip of a pen. Immatures are bright red or grey with a white stripe across their back.

Hosts Plants: They may live on a variety of plants, including zoysiagrass, perennial rye, Kentucky bluegrass, and fescues.

Territory: North America

Damage Insect Cause: Chinch bugs inflict harm by sucking plant sap from the crown. At the same time, they inject a salivary secretion that injures cells and impairs water and nutrient transfer. The initial yellowing continues to the entire plant turning straw-brown. Damage can range from moderate thinning to complete grass death. Remove a small portion of turf and violently shake it over a sheet of white paper to remove the insects.

Life History and Habits: In soft soil, thatch, and leaf sheaths, females may produce up to 250 eggs in their lifespan. They typically lay four eggs every day. In one to two weeks, the eggs will hatch, and nymphs must go through five molts before becoming adults. In the southeast, chinchilla populations are active all year round, with the exception of a brief adult hibernation phase during the cold winter months. Chinch bugs stay hidden at the roots and base of St. Augustinegrass as a result, seldom leaving their feeding area. Populations may have 7–10 overlapping generations during the warmer months.