Two important insect pests that include grasshoppers and chinch bugs are showing up a little earlier than normal and have begun making their presence known to many homeowners.
Grasshoppers seem to have suddenly appeared in large numbers. Actually, their numbers haven't increased, as it is the attraction to areas that provide for more tender vegetation and moisture such as to home landscapes that are watered on a regular basis.
As there are many types of grasshoppers common to our area, perhaps the most common in appearance, and certainly the scariest of them all, is the Devil Horse grasshopper. This large, black grasshopper can be quite intimidating due to its "devilish" appearance and more often becomes a nuisance just for being around rather than for any damage its does to plants.
However, these grasshoppers are capable of causing major plant damage when congregated in large numbers. Controlling these unwelcome critters is not difficult and usually involves a simple technique of the foot coming down rapidly on top of the grasshopper. But for those who don't like to get that close to them, another method would involve treating the landscape beds with a chemical insecticide such as Sevin, Isotox, or Orthene.
Another pest that loves the hot dry weather is the chinch bug. These little black and white insects feed through sucking mouth parts that pierce the blades of St. Augustine grass and cause it to die back causing large brown circular areas to appear in the lawn. Quite often, many homeowners misdiagnose this symptom as a brown patch fungal disease which only occurs during cool, damp weather and then treating with a fungicide rather than an insecticide.
St. Augustine will usually recover from brown patch as well as many other fungal diseases but an infestation of chinch bugs can totally destroy the grass throughout the affected area. Management of chinch bugs can be obtained with Talstar, Sevin, Battle, Scimitar or Marvik Aquaflow. Be sure to use enough water to wash the product down in to the grass and also to treat well beyond and around the affected areas.