Chinch Bug, Blissus leucopterus (Say)

PLANTS ATTACKED: All cultivated and wild grasses, corn, grain sorghum and small grain.

DESCRIPTION: Adult. The adult insect is 1/6 to 1/5 inch long, has a black body, reddish yellow legs and fully developed wings. Each front wing is mostly white, but is marked with a triangular black patch at the middle of the outer margin.

Nymph. A newly hatched nymph (young) is bright red and has a white band across the back. As the bug grows, it darkens an(l is almost black by the time it reaches the last nymphal instar.

LIFE HISTORY: The chinch bug hibernates in the adult stage in clumps of grass and plant refuse. Frequently 5,000 bugs may be found on a square foot of surface of favorable hibernation. The adults migrate from the hibernating quarters to host plants during early spring, mate and lay eggs on the plant at or near the soil surface. The bug requires 30 to 40 days to complete its development. Usually, there are two generations per year.

DAMAGE: Chinch bugs suck the juices from plants. Most of the damage is caused by the nymphs which congregate and feed behind the sheaths of the lower leaves. Wilting and drying out of the plants upon which they feed often is the first indication of chinch bugs. Damage may first appear as purplish leaves on seedling plants. This symptom can be confused with yellow sugarcane aphid damage or other crop stresses. Chinch bug damage can become severe enough to stunt plants and reduce stands.

BIOLOGY:Eggs are laid behind the lower leaf sheaths of host plants, on roots, or in the ground nearby. The life cycle is completed in 30 to 40 days and there are normally two generations a year. Chinch bugs overwinter as adults in bunch grass and other grasses.