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Another Weird One to Watch For: False Chinch Bugs?

July 6, 2001
On June 28, Dale Burmester, Gateway FS in Red Bud, reported that he had to visit with a homeowner who had indicated he had found "millions of chinch bugs crawling on and around the foundation of his house." When Dale told me that, I recalled a similar situation from way back. I looked through some past issues of the Bulletin and came across some articles we had written about the false chinch bug (probably Nysius raphanus) in 1988. Sure enough, the situation was much the samemillions of false chinch bugs annoying homeowners and producers alike. Although I have not confirmed the report of these bugs with Dale, their possible occurrence is worth a mention.

We learned in 1988 that although false chinch bugs are content to feed on a number of different weed species, they will feed on field crops when their weed hosts dry up. Obviously this can occur in areas of the state that have been hot and dry for an extended period.

False chinch bugs often occur in enormous numbers when environmental conditions favor their development and survival. The adult is 1/16 to 1/8 inch long and is black with clear wings. The nymphs vary in size depending on their stage of development. Fully grown nymphs are about 1/16 inch long and appear gray-brown, without the aid of magnification. Under magnification, the nymphs have irregular brown and white stripes or mottling on the head and thorax, a broken white line along the center of the head that continues onto the thorax, and reddish mottling apparent on the abdomen.

So, add this one to a growing list of oddball insect occurrences that have characterized 2001. We have no idea whether others will encounter this insect, but keep it in the back of your mind whenever you happen to investigate an unknown insect source of aggravation.--Kevin Steffey

Author: Kevin Steffey

The Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin
Executive Editor: Kevin Steffey, Extension Entomologist

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