In between checking fields, I look at many lawn related issues in Thomasville. Shortly after our drought spell, we were seeing cetipedegrass die out in some areas. This was the result of heat and drought. Soon after this, I was asked to look at some St. Augustinegrass that appeared to have the same problem. Lawn symptoms looked similar to drought stress, but we looked down in the thatch and confirmed chinch bugs. They are very small and hard to catch. You have to look toward the boarders of the infected area, and then look down in the thatch.
Chinch bugs are in the Hemiptera or “true bug” insect order which means they have piercing/sucking mouthparts. They cause damage by feeding on the lower blades of the grass. They affect St. Augustine primarily but can also infect all other warm season grasses. Their damage is first noticed during hot, dry periods in sunny areas of the lawn. This is why they thought this was likely result of drought. In the case of chinch bugs, dry spells are an indirect cause.