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Control of Chinch Bug Without Pesticides
and Other Ecological Lawncare Practices

Agents for treating developing infestations
  1. Removal of chinch bugs
       (i) Vacuuming
       (ii) Soap & Sheet Trap
  2. Insecticidal Agents
        (i) Insecticidal Soap
                Household Soap
        (ii) Diatomaceous Earth
        (iii) Other Natural Products/Botanical
  3. Biological Control Agents
  4. Recovery After Treatment
  5. Links

Tools of the Trade but in Canada, PMRA regulations do NOT allow insecticidal soap to be used for control of chinch bug.

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  • IMPORTANT UPDATE: Use of Pyrethrins and Neem Oil to Control Chinch Bug (Posted Aug 16, '07)

    Treatments for dealing with developing infestations - 'acute controls' - constitute the first level of control of chinch bug. Special efforts should be made to minimize any possible negative effects of the treatments on natural enemies of chinch, as well as to avoid use of materials that could be hazardous to humans and other non-target species. Unfortunately, restrictions in Canada limit our access to some of the more benign control agents or 'soft' pesticides.

    There are two general approaches to treating chinch in areas of early damage: removal of chinch (Section 1 below) and use of insecticidal agents (Section 2 below). Biological control (Section 3 below) agents may be of some value if applied early in the seaosn to areas that have had chinch problems in previous seasons. Damaged areas may have to be reseeded (Section 4 below).

    1. Removal of chinch bugs

    1(i) Vacuuming

    A few guides to controlling chinch mention vacuuming to remove chinch but provide few details. Fortunately we have some local experience to draw on (see Box).

    Vacuuming: it works!

    Willow Park in Wolfville in the hot days of August
    David Slabotsky, the Parks foreman for the Wolfville Parks Department uses shop vacuums to remove chinch from chinch hot spots. Monitoring is critical. From the end of June onward David keeps a sharp eye out for early signs of damage (localized yellowing or browning of grass), especially in areas prone to drying out.

    David checks suspicious spots for chinch. He had to use a magnifying glass initially, but after a while he says you get to recognize them pretty quickly without one. He does a vigorous hand raking to within two feet (61 cm) of the damaged grass, and then vacuums the whole area. He tries to water the area subsequently.

    David says this technique is 100% effective when the infestations are caught at an early stage. It would be too time consuming to apply once an infestation has got out of control. However, he suggests that industrial turf vacuums (such as are used on football fields) could probably handle larger areas.

    1(ii) Soap & Sheet trap

    This method is cited frequently. Here's Health Canada's version:[C13]
    Put 30 mL (1 oz) of dishwashing soap in 7 L water and drench a small area of lawn, i.e., 0.2 m2 (2 ft2). A larger area of lawn can be treated by using a hose attachment. The chinch bugs will crawl to the surface of the grass to escape the soap.

    Lay a flannel sheet over the treated area and wait 10 — 15 minutes. The chinch bugs will crawl onto the sheet, where their feet will become trapped in the flannel nap. They can be vacuumed off the sheet or drowned in a bucket.
    Olkpwski et al.[C12] emphasize that vacuuming and dish soap trap methods are best conducted when damage is just beginning to occur as the chinch bugs are still congregated in specific locations and can be efficiently collected. Thus monitoring the lawn for first signs of damage, as emphasized by David Slabotsky, is essential for this type of control to be effective.

    2. Insecticidal Agents

    'Soft' and 'Hard' Pesticides

    The terms 'soft' and 'hard' are coming into use to distinguish pesticides such as soaps and oils from the traditional types of pesticides. There is no universally agreed upon definition for these terms; as used on this site, they are defined as follows.

    Soft pesticides are mostly natural products that decompose quickly and completely, have little or no ill effects on humans and either do not affect natural enemies of pests or allow quick reinvasion of treated areas by natural enemies. Many of them, e.g., soap and certain essential oils, have an ancient history of use by humans as pesticides or pest repellents or for other purposes, but have not been exploited in the modern context until recently. The U.S. has moved faster than Canada in registering these sorts of materials for pesticidal use.

    Hard pesticides are the traditional, mostly synthetic pesticides but also include certain botanical pesticides such as nicotine; they are generally broad spectrum in their action, decompose slowly and/or incompletely and pose significant health risks.

    Regardless of classification, any pesticidal material - even soap - could be hazardous under some conditions, and should be treated with caution.
    NOTE: Legally, any substance used to control a pest through chemical or biological action is defined as a 'pesticide'. Under our federal Pest Control Products Act, all pest control agents must be approved by the PMRA and granted a Pest Control Product Number (PCP#) or be given a specific exemption from this requirement. Products are approved for specific uses; if chinch bug is not listed as one them, the product cannot be used to control chinch bug. According to the PMRA's ELSE database, the only commercial products currently registered for use on chinch bug on lawns in Canada are products containing diazinon or carbaryl; these are synthetic pesticides that are NOT permitted under the HRM By-Law, and that even the PMRA has targeted for removal from the domestic market because of signficiant health risks, especially for children. As non-sensical as it may seem, with the possible exception of household soap, none of the more benign agents discussed under this section can be used in Canada for treatment of chinch bug unless exceptional use permits are obtained, or until there are changes in the existing regulations. The information below is provided to give persons or groups dealing with chinch bug problems in Canada some idea of what could be acceptable alternative treatments and for which exceptional use permits might be sought.

    2(i) Insecticidal Soap (CGSB/OMRI Allowed material, but in Canada not specified for use on chinch bug) and Household Soap

    Olkowski et al.[C12] suggest the use of trap methods (above) for small infestations and use of insecticidal soap solutions (or soap + pyrethrins, discussed under 2(iii) below) when large infestations need to be treated. Insecticidal soaps are generally applied at a conentration of 2% (by volume) in water. [V19] Household soaps are often used in place of insecticidal soaps (discussed below).

    Soaps are important agents in pesticide-free pest control. Depending on how they are formulated, soaps can have insecticidal, fungicidal, wildlife-deterring, and herbicidal qualities. They are usually considered alternatives to pesticides or 'soft' pesticides' because of their low toxicity to humans, rapid degradation, and because the components on which they are based are common constituents which do not serve a pesticidal role in nature and because soaps have a long history of use by humans.

    Regardless, any material used to control pests is legally classified as a pesticide and subject to PMRA registration requirements unless expressly exempted from those requirements. A number of soap products are registered for use in Canada but none are registered for use on chinch bug. Soaps are currently under PMRA review for continued registration.

    Mixing with water
    Insecticidal soaps can be purchased in ready-to-apply dilute form (2% potassium salts of fatty acids) and in concentrated (50% potassium salts of fatty acids) form.

    Soaps are NOT effective when used with very acid water (pH 4.5 ), or with hard (high calcium and magnesium) water. Untreated water from some sources in this region could be on the very acid side; treated HRM water is usually on the 'hard' side.

    IPM Alaska suggests the following test for hardness.[V19]
    Conduct a "jar test" to determine if your water is compatible with the soap. Mix the concentration of soap that you intend to use with water in a glass jar. Mix and allow standing 15 minutes. If the mix remains uniform and milky, then your water quality is adequate. If a scum develops on the surface of the water, then conditioning of the water will be necessary. The water can be conditioned using a commercially available non-ionic buffering and conditioning agent. Insecticidal soaps may foam; if your sprayer has an agitator, a defoaming agent may also be added. Insecticidal soap is simply a highly refined soap.

    Halifax Regional Municipality water is limed during treatment to raise the pH [V53] and is on the 'hard side', but is not very hard (as it might be if coming from limestone catchement areas).

    I tested one Insecticidal Soap product and one Pure Soap product with HRM (Peninsula) water (2% soap). The insecticidal soap product formed a small amount of scum; no scum was formed with the pure soap product. Different results might be obtained with specific products or water from other sources.

    Very acid water might be limed before use, and/or the 2% soap solutions tested for their effects on chinch bugs by direct observation of chinch bugs before and after soap treatment.

    Applying Soap to Chinch Bugs

    Michael Talbot, an experienced and highly regarded ecological landscaper in the northeastern U.S., advises use of soap for chinch bug as follows:[L16]
    Serious infestations can be controlled using Safer's Insecticidal Soap with a tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol* added per quart. Drench the thatch layer thoroughly every 3 to 4 days for two weeks.

    *Michael Talbot informed me recently that the isopropyl alcohol is not really necessary - dp, 10 May, 2004.

    We suggest monitoring a few patches for possible recovery of chinch between successive applications. Less frequent applications (1 x weekly) over several weeks may be satisfactory; don't make the intervals between application less than 3 to 4 days.

    Windy, dry weather reduces effectiveness because the soaps dry up faster. Apply the soap in the early mornings or early evening or on overcast days. Moistening the target area before hand will help. Avoid hot, sunny times of the day, as that increases potential for damage to plants.

    When to begin soap treatments
    The soap treatment could be expected to be most effective when all eggs have hatched and most are in early nymphs stages. In our region, that would usually be in the mid-July to mid-August period, or when the first signs of damage are observed.[C4] (See Section 3 MONITORING)

    Effects on target and non-target organisms
    Insecticidal soaps work only on direct contact with the insects so they should be applied close to the ground. The soap disrupts the waxy outer skin of soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mites, and whitefly. The least affected are flying insects with more durable exteriors[v18], which include some important predatory insects but their immature stages may be vulnerable. There are few formal studies on the effects of soaps on natural enemies;[V 15] one reports some negative effects on lady bird beetles.[V16]

    There is no residual activity once the soap have dried up and it is rapidly broken down by light and soil biological activity ; the half life is less than one day[V15]. This allows quick reentry by natural enemies if they were killed by the soap treatment.

    Soaps can be phytotoxic (damaging) to plants; plants with hairy leaves that retain the soap are most vulnerable[V18] and, as noted above, household soaps may be harsher on plants than commercial insecticidal soaps. Soap solutions should not be applied at the hottest time of day in full sun when the grass is most stressed (see box). If a household soap is being used, it could be tested for effects on grass in a limited area. Plants can also be rinsed off after a couple of hours to reduce risk.

    Some insecticial soap products contain botanical or synthetic pesticides. Always check the label for contents and handling precautions.

    Insecticidal soaps are non-toxic to humans although they may be irritating on the skin and direct contact should be avoided. They have little effect on birds and fish, but the potassium soaps are highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and should NOT be applied where runoff into surface waters could occur.[V15]

    Household Soap

    Use of household soap is a less desirable option than use of insecticidal soap. However, as in Canada use of insecticidal soap against chinch bug is clearly NOT legal, use of household soap by individuals might be considered, although the legal status of doing so is currently ambiguous (see Legality of Using Household Soap). The suggestions offered above for insecticidal soap in regard to mixing and application apply also to household soap. However special consideration should be given to the type of household soap that is used. Insecticidal soap (left) and two household soaps, one a pure soap and one a detergent. If household soap is used against pests, pure soap is the better option.

    Insecticidal soaps (and other types of pesticidal soaps) are refined soaps that have been selected for effectiveness against the target pests AND to be relatively benign to plants, humans and non-target organisms. Probably all household soaps and detergents have some insecticidal activity and, in some cases, more than insecticidal soaps. However the household soaps and detergents can be more damaging to plants and non-target organisms than insecticidal soaps. (Thus the term 'insecticidal' should not be interpreted as meaning that they are more dangerous or risky to use than ordinary soaps, in fact the reverse is probably true.) See More About Soaps, Detergents and Insecticidal Soaps.

    Some, but not any, household soaps can be used as substitutes for registered insecticidal soaps. IPM Alaska[V19] offers the following recommendations:
    Usually insecticidal soaps are used as a 2% solution. If you choose to make your own solution with liquid soap, test it first to make sure it will not damage your plants. One recipe is: one teaspoon of liquid soap such as mild Dove, Pure Ivory Soap, or Dr. Bonners or pure castille soap, per quart of water. Do not use extra strength, grease-cutting, or anti-bacterial soap.

    2(ii) Diatomaceous Earth (CGSB/OMRI Restricted; in Canada, not specified for use on chinch bug)


    Diatomaceous Earth or DE is a mined sedimentary deposit consisting of the glassy, siliceous skeletons of diatoms, which are microscopic sized single celled aquatic and marine algae.

    In the dry state, DE absorbs the waxy layer on insects' cuticle, causing dehydration and death. It also works abrasively to rupture insect cuticles, allowing cell sap to leak out,[C12] and if ingested it disrupts the insect's breathing, digestion and reproduction.[V37]

    Use of Diatomaceous Earth on Chinch Bugs

    DE is frequently mentioned as an agent for treating chinch bugs, usually as a follow-up to soap treatment. There appear to be no formal studies on application rates and effectiveness on chinch bug.

    Some publications advise delivering it with water or dusting after a light rain or watering to help it to stay in place. The dry material may be more effective, however. The Green Consumer[V38] offers the following advice.
    Users should not regard DE as an immediate pest control measure, but one that takes several weeks or months to control pests. DE should be applied over the entire affected area, forcing pests to contact the dust. It must be reapplied periodically in humid conditions, which can cause it to lose effectiveness.

    Inhalation should be avoided when handling DE. The use of a dust mask, as well as goggles to protect against eye irritation, is advised.

    The following advice is offered by beorganic.com [C19] for treating chinch bugs:
    If you do find that your lawn has chinch bugs use D.E. at a rate of 1 lb per 500 sq/ft. Treat infested areas and then treat the edges of these areas as a control for escaping insects. Do not treat the entire lawn. [1 lb/500 sq ft = 1 kilogram per 10 x 10 meters -dp]

    DE is virtually non-toxic to humans if consumed, however, the dust can irritate eyes and lungs so mask and goggles are advised when using it. Swimming pool grade has been chemically treated to make crystalline silica and is a more severe respiratory hazard; it should not be used.

    The Green Consumer[V38] advises that "the most significant toxicity concern for DE is chronic (long-term) inhalation of the fine dust. Crystalline silica, an impurity that can be found in certain forms of DE (particularly those that have been processed under high temperatures), has been identified to cause lung cancer. Therefore, when selecting a form of DE to purchase, consumers should be advised to look for non-heated DE containing less than one percent crystalline silica."

    Some formulations of DE contain pesticides. Be sure to check the label.

    DE kills non-target insects and earthworms, so should not be used indiscriminately.[C12]

    DE is most commonly used in control of insects in stored products such as grains, and in dry household places (e.g., for cockroaches). In relation to its use with stored products such as grains, reports indicate that "in general, toxicity and efficacy of DE is negatively correlated with increases in relative humidity and positively correlated with increases in temperature. [V12]

    2(iii) Other Natural Products/Botanical Pesticides (Not permitted in Canada or not specified for chinch bug)

    This category covers a wide range of substances derived from plants, often used in mixtures, and made in the kitchen or commercially. As natural products, they degrade in the soil much more quickly than synthetic pesticidal compounds. They have various modes of action and may differ in their effectiveness according to the developmental stage of the target pest.

    Examples range from some of the milder 'essential oils' (the volatile biochemicals responsible for the odours of aromatic plants) such as citronella, which can be considered 'soft' pesticides through to very potent 'botanical insecticides' such as rotenone, pyrethrum, nicotine which are definitely in the 'hard' pesticide category.

    Sometimes the botanical pesticides are used in a crude unconcentrated or only slightly concentrated form, and the precise chemical composition of the active ingredients is not known or is due to several constituents and may vary from batch to batch. Sometimes particular constituents are extracted and purified so that a certain level of the active ingredients can be specified; these materials are usually treated as regular pesticides.

    Drawbacks and Benefits

    There are two general drawbacks to the botanical pesticides:

    1. The stronger botanical pesticides are broad spectrum and kill natural enemies of pests, and according to the substance, fish, birds or other wildlife, or pets.
    2. Some of the botanical pesticides are significant allergens, and/or have other significant toxic effects on humans.

    There are several common advantages of the botanical pesticide over synthetic pesticides.

    • They degrade faster. This means that natural enemies, if they are killed by the pesticide, can reinvade the treated area sooner (as with soap).
    • Certain classes of botanical pesticides or certain products have extremely low toxicity to humans. Some are even derived from foodstuffs or culinary items that have been consumed by humans for ages. However, even some of those items can be toxic if consumed in large doses, e.g., oil of wintergreen.[V25]
    • Some botanicals affect natural enemies of pests (which are mostly predators or parasites, much less than most pests (which are mostly herbivores or plant-eating insects).

    Some of the botanical pesticides are relatively mild pesticides, and set a population back, e.g. by interfering with reproduction, rather than kill the pests outright. Control exerted by this sort of pesticide resembles control that might be achieved introducing or augmenting natural enemies. With such materials, the overall health of the system including plant health and the state of the natural enemies can affect the outcome. It is much easier to tip the balance against the pest when the plants are otherwise healthy, and if there is an abundance and diversity of natural enemies.

    Botanical pesticides that have been in common use for some time, e.g. nicotine, rotenone. pyrethrum/pyrethrins are mostly of the stronger more hazardous type. These 'hard' pesticides, if allowed at all, are given a RESTRICTED status by OMRI (see Permitted Materials Lists).

    Examples of botanical pesticides

    Below, four examples of plant materials that are commonly cited for control of chinch bug are discussed Note however that NO PLANT PRODUCTS (BOTANICAL PESTICIDES) ARE CURRENTLY REGISTERED IN CANADA FOR USE ON CHINCH BUG.

    The examples are given to illustrate

    • the wide range of modes of actions and toxicities of the plant materials;
    • that not all materials that are edible or readily obtained in the home are necessarily benign pesticides;
    • in the cases of neem and essential oils, examples of "soft pesticides" that could become available in Canada in future, or that potential users might access by applying for an exceptional use permit

    1. Pyrethrum/pyrethrins
    (CGSB Restricted) Pyrethrum/pyrethrins are classified as a Permitted Pesticide under the HRM By-Law Administrative Order No. 23. In 2007, a pyrethrin-soap product was approved for control of chinch bug by the PMRA on May 2, 2007 and is permissable under the HRM pesticide By-law. See Note. While pyrethrum/pyrethrins are botanical pesticides and are widely used in the home environment, users should be aware of two major drawbacks:

    • Pyrethrum/pyrethrins have broad spectrum activity and kill beneficial organisms as well as the target pests; they are extremely toxic to bees, fish, and other aquatic animals, and even have negative effects on some soil microbes.
    • With piperonyl buyoxide (PBO), another natural product commonly included with pyrethrins, pyrethrins are a common cause of insecticide poisonings in humans and they are strong allergens. Negative effects on the nervous system, eyes, blood, kidneys and reproductive systems, have been reported as well as and carcinogenic activity. Cats are particularly sensitive because they have low levels of the enzymes that detoxify pyrethrins. PBO is PROHIBITED under the CGSB Organic Standard (and OMRI).
    See About Pyrethrum/Pyrethrins for more details

    2. Garlic
    Garlic has been used medicinally to fight infections of various sorts for thousands of years, and is common constituent of folk recipes for pesticidal sprays.

    A number of compounds in garlic with names such as allicin, geraniol, linalool have insecticidal activity. Because garlic is a culinary staple, it is presumed safe for humans.

    However, because garlic has broad spectrum effects and kills natural enemies such as lady bird beetles, syrphid flies, and lacewings, it is NOT recommended for routine use as an insecticide by authorities in non-toxic approaches to pest control.[C12, V25]

    3. Neem
    Neem oil is an active ingredient of several products cited for chinch control in the U.S. Neem is NOT registered for use as a pesticide in Canada but is sold for foliar application.

    Neem trees on rice paddy bunds (dykes)

    Neem has been available in the U.S. as a registered pest control product since 1985. Neem oil is derived from a tree native to India and has been used for pest control in some cultures for ages. Its major benefits are that it has little if any toxicity to humans, and on the whole, little effect on natural enemies of pests. The insecticidal ingredients are alcohol soluble, and the residual 'Clarified Hydrophobic Extract of Neem Oil' has fungicidal properties. It degrades readily, and has very little effect on most natural enemies, rather it affects the insects that feed directly on plants. Similarly, few effects on non-target organisms have been observed.[V23]However, when applied on a large scale, concentrations in aquatic systems could be high enough to have adverse effects on plant-eating crustaceans (zooplankton).[V46]

    Neem solid in HRM as a foliar treatment (May '07).
    If more drastic pesticide treatment than soap is required for chinch bug, neem products such as Safer BioNeem or Organica K + Neem (Neem Oil Insecticidal Soap) appear to be much more appropriate than diazinon and carbaryl (permitted for use in chinch in Canada, but not in HRM under the pesticide By-Law) or pyrethin products (permitted under the HRM Pesticie By-law, but not permitted by PMRA for use on chinch). Most neem products have RESTRICTED status under OMRI. ACORN comments about use of neem that it " is best used under humid conditions or when the plants and insects are damp. Neem solution also cannot be exposed to direct sunlight and is effective for only eight hours after preparation."

    See About Neem for some further information.

    4. Essential Oils
    Essential oils are the volatile biochemicals that are responsible for the odours of aromatic plants. Most of them belong to a class of compounds known as terpenes. They have been used as fragrances and flavours in the perfume and foods for ages, and informally as grain protectants and insect repellents. Few formal studies on their insect-repelling qualities had been conducted until the last 10 years. There is considerable interest in these materials currently, in part because in the U.S. a number of essential oils are excluded from many of the requirements for registering pesticides because of the apparent lack of health hazards. Other reasons are that they are proving to be effective pest control agents, and some essential oils are produced in bilk and are very cheap.[V24]

    A Canadian, who has been involved in their development as pesticides summarizes their use as follows[V24]:
    Certain plant essential oils and/or their constituents have a broad spectrum of activity against insect and mite pests, plant pathogenic and other fungi, and nematodes. As such, they have considerable potential as crop protectants and for pest management in other situations (e.g. urban pest control). Current information indicates that they are safe to the user and the environment, with few qualifications. As a cautionary note, the essential oils that are most effective against pests are often the most phytotoxic; this latter property requires serious attention when formulating products for agricultural and landscape use. Also, selectivity among invertebrates is not well documented. Honeybees appear somewhat susceptible (Lindberg et al., 2000), and the susceptibility of various natural enemies has yet to be reported, although the lack of persistence of essential oils under field conditions could provide some measure of temporal selectivity favoring these non-target species.

    Like other alternative pest management products, essential oil-based pesticides will not be a panacea for crop protection, but there should be substantial market niches, particularly where there is a premium on worker safety and environmental protection, in which these types of products will find wide acceptance among growers.

    Essential Oil Products as 'Minimum Risk Pesticides'

    In the U.S. some essential oils are on a list of 31 'Minimum Risk Pesticides'. The individual items are the active ingredients; all are all natural materials. e.g., it includes cinnamon, lemon grass and rosemary oils) There is also a list of Minimal Risk Inert ingredients, which include approx 160 items e.g. ground oats, cane syrup, soybean oil[V27, 28]. (See Links Section below for the pertinent US EPA documents). If a pest control product is made up only of active ingredients and inerts from these lists, it can qualify as a 'minimum risk pesticide' and is exempt from EPA registration requirements for pesticides, although some States still require registration (and they are NOT permitted in Canada).

    Minimum Risk Pesticides should not be confused with 'Reduced Risk Pesticides'. The latter are pesticides that for particular purposes have "very low toxicity to humans and non-target organisms, low risk of groundwater contamination or runoff, low potential for pesticide resistance, demonstrated efficacy and compatibility with IPM"[V28]. The US government has accelerated procedures for registering pesticides that qualify for this category; they include products synthetic active ingredients and inerts. The reduced risk pesticides must bear US EPA registration numbers. Manufacturers are not permitted to use the term 'reduced risk' on labels. The PMRA has also implemented a Reduced Risk Pesticide category, however, there is no indication (yet) that it intends to develop a Minimum Risk category similar to that in the U.S.

    Several companies in the U.S. are marketing products that include only the exempt active ingredients and inerts. One which cites chinch bug as a target pest is described as follows (source: http://www.biconet.com/botanicals/exemptIC.html)
    EcoEXEMPTTM IC Use on Turf and Grass:

    Used alone as a contact spray: To control Ants, Armyworms, Pillbugs, Chinch Bugs, Chiggers, Crickets, Cutworms, Earwigs, Fleas, Grasshoppers, Hyperodes, Weevils (adults), Japanese Beetles (adults), Mole Crickets, Sod Webworms, and Ticks, dilute in a compressed air sprayer (or backpack) 2 — 4 fluid ounces of EcoEXEMPT? IC per gallon of water and apply at the rate of 2 — 4 gallons per 1,000 square feet or until area is thoroughly wet. For power sprayers, mix approximately 2 — 4 fluid ounces per gallon of water and apply until area is sufficiently covered (usually minimum of 4 gallons per 1,000 square feet with a power sprayer).

    Active Ingredient: Rosemary Oil, 10.0%
    Other Ingredients: Oil of Wintergreen, Mineral Oil
    This product is OMRI approved, but is not permitted for use in Canada.

    3. Biological Control Agents

    Biological control agents are natural enemies (predator or parasites) of pests or microbial pathogens that can be introduced to a system to increase the mortality of the pest, usually in advance of any expected outbreak. Once the outbreak has occurred, it's usually to late to for a biological control agent to bring the pest under control before it does signficiant dsamage.

    Ideally the biological control agents are self-sustaining so that once introduced, they do not have to be reintroduced; however that depends on the organisms and site conditions.

    Biological control agents tend to be quite finicky; they need to be properly cared for up to the point of delivery and introduced at the right time and, in some cases, given special care after they are introduced, or uses of certain pesticides avoided. Agents which have been around for a while tend to be better known and can be extremely effective; those which haven't been used extensively for a particular problem (as is the case for the two biological control cited below for chinch bug) are possibly effective, but are more risky if they being relied on as the main control agent; applied along with other control measures, they probably help, and the risk of failure is lessened.

    Two biological control agents are frequently cited for control of chinch bug: beneficial nematodes and an insect-attacking fungus called Beuavaria bassiana.

    1. Beneficial (Entomopathogenic) Nematodes
    2. Nematodes are tiny roundworms or threadworms ('nema' is Greek for thread) that are very important soil organisms. Some types attack plants, some attack insects, but most are involved in the normal decomposition processes in the soil. The beneficial, entomopathogenic (insect-attacking) nematodes attack over 400 pest insect species.[C12] They infect their host with particular types of bacteria. These bacteria kill the host quickly and initiate its decomposition. The nematodes feed on the decomposing host.[C12]

      Different nematode species carry different bacteria and behave differently, so it is important to match the nematode species (and possibly even the bacterial strain) with the pest species. The nematodes have very specific storage and application requirements. Strains have been selected and have proved very effective for control of certain lawn pests, notably grubs. There is no published information on the use of nematodes for chinch bug control and none have yet been selected specifically for chinch bug (Dr. Parwinder Grewal, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University, personal communication, 5 Apr. 2004). However, there is likely no harm and there may be benefits to including them in a chinch bug control program.

      Beneficial nematodes do NOT have to be registered for use in Canada by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and are available in Canada (See ACORN database: Nematodes)

      See the Links section for web documents providing more detailed information about beneficial nematodes.

    3. Beauvaria bassiana
    4. This fungus appears to play an important role in the natural control of chinch bbug (discussed in section IV on this website). Beauvaria-containing microbial products are on the market, but as with the nematodes, strains specific for chinch have not yet been developed.

      No Beauvaria products are registered for use in Canada.

      See the Links section for web documents providing more detailed information about Beauvaria bassiana.

    4. Recovery After Treatment

    Slightly damaged turf will recover rather quickly if lightly fertilized and watered regularly. Larger areas will require reseeding or sodding in late summer/early fall and/or the following spring. [C2].

    In the case that a whole lawn will be resodded or sown, consider improvements to the soil base at the same time (See CONTROL Level 4, this website).

    5. Links

    • Effective Control of Chinch Bugs (www.hc-sc.gc.ca/pmra-arla/english/consum/chinchbugs-e.html) Health Canada/PMRA Spons. (2000, July. Viewed 16 May 2007). Details PMRA advice for monitoring and control of chinch bug. Note however that the only domestic class products permitted by the PMRA for chinch bug control are pesticides that are NOT permitted under the HRM Pesticide By-Law. Communication with the PMRA confirmed that soap and diatomaceous earth are not permitted for control chinch bug in Canada: see Questions To and Answers From the PMRA

    • Pesticides Made with Botanical Oils and Extracts. (www.ipmofalaska.com/files/essentialoils.html) IPM Alaska, Spons. (2003. Viewed 16 May 2007).
      Good overview. Includes canola, catnip, cedarwood, citronella, garlic, various herbal, JoJoba, neem, soybean sesame oils.

    • BOTANICALS (www.biconet.com/botanicals.html) BIOCONTROL NETWORK, spons. (Viewed 16 May 2007).
      Descriptions of botanical pesticide products marketed in the U.S. Note that exceptional permits would be required to use many of these in Canada. Also, check out whether an individual product is listed on the OMRI Organic Products List.

    Minimum Risk Pesticides (U.S.)
    • Reduced-Risk Pesticides, Minimum Risk Pesticides and Biopesticides (www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/Woodys/ReducedRiskPesticides.htm) Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Spons. D. Gilrein, Auth. (2002, January 30. Viewed 16 May 2007).

    • PESTICIDE REGISTRATION (PR) NOTICE 2000-6 NOTICE TO MANUFACTURERS, FORMULATORS, PRODUCERS AND REGISTRANTS OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS (PDF document) (www.epa.gov/PR_Notices/pr2000-6.pdf) US EPA, Spons. (2000, May 7. Viewed 16 May 2007) A U.S. government notice which was prepared to clarify conditions for exemption of minimum risk pesticides by FIFRA ((Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act). It includes list 25b of exempted active ingredients, and list 4A of Minimal Risk Inerts.

    • Minimum Risk Pesticides(www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/biopesticides/regtools/25b_list.htm) US EPA, Spons. (Viewed 16 May 2007) List 25b on a webpage

    • Lists of Other (Inert) Pesticide Ingredients (www.epa.gov/opprd001/inerts/lists.html) US EPA, Spons. (Viewed 16 May 2007) Five separate lists of inerts differentiated according to the level of risk List 4A Minimal risk (List 4A) substances are recognized as safe for use in all pesticide products subject only to good agricultural practices or good manufacturing practices. Classification as a List 4A inert ingredient is critical to those products that are exempted from Federal regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) section 25 (b). List 4B includes substances deemed of no significant hazard, and " the Agency does not establish a use pattern for the chemical substance, i.e. it does not define how, where, when or in what manner the substance can be used."
    About Beneficial Nematodes
    • Nice job, nematodes
      (www.landscapemanagement.net/landscape/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=88433). Landscape Management Magazine, Spons. P/S. Grewal, Auth. (2004, March 3. Viewed 16 May 2007).
      The subtitle is 'These parasites' effectiveness in fighting soil insect pests is changing their public perception'. The articles provides a good overview of how benefical nematodes function and how they are used commercially.

    About Beauvaria bassiana
    About Biological Controls Generally

    Site posted 6 Apr. 2004

    Links updated 16 May 2007
    Page modified 28 Mar. 2008