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False Chinch Bugs Invade During the hot summer months, drought or during water restrictions, chinch bugs are very active. As such, controlling them requires repeated pesticide application to save turf grasses. One bag of Talstar granules will cover 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of turf grass. The adult false chinch bug is grayish brown, slender, and about 3 millimeters (1/8th inch) long. The insect resembles the lygus bug. The nymph is gray with a reddish-brown abdomen. Chinch bug legs and antennae are longer and darker than the body. Immature stages lack wings and resemble coffee grounds.

This summer heavy migrations of false chinch bugs were found in Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties in central California. Homeowners were hit hard as waves of bugs enveloped garden and landscape plants. Homeowners reported that the insect masses resembled ''moving ground.'' Landscape contractors in the area should keep watch for wilting and scorching in one to two-year-old grape vines and trees. ''Aggregations of false chinch bugs can quickly result in plant and tree decline,'' said David Haviland, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Kern County. Haviland has fielded numerous phone calls from PCAs and residents across Kern County from Delano to the north, Buttonwillow to the west, and Arvin to the south. ''The problem is bad enough in some Kern County areas that if (landscape contractors) didn't spray they would lose a lot of young trees,'' Haviland said. Major weeds, which serve as preferred hosts for the false chinch bug include London rocket, wild mustard, wild radish and shepherd's purse. Above average rainfall this spring increased weeds and grasses in areas with natural vegetation. Cool spring and early summer temperatures extended the weed-grass growing season, fueling the false chinch bug buildup. Immature and adult insects feed on plants through their straw-like proboscis, which probes into the plant tissue to drink plant fluids. Plants are unable to replace lost tissue and fluids. The time frame from first infestation to scorching and wilting is two to three days.

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