Earlier this year Arizona residents were calling pest control professionals about the massive crane fly invasion. While crane flies no longer seem to be a huge problem, false chinch bugs are the latest insect pests to experience a serious population boom, causing panicked people to once again call their pest control professionals in response to these new invaders. According to University of Arizona entomologist Gene Hall, this explosion of chinch bugs was caused by the same thing as the population boom in crane flies, this last year’s cool, wet winter. The winter weather produced an unusually large crop of weeds, which is the chinch bug’s primary source of food.
False chinch bugs are harmless little bugs that do not bite or sting humans, are less than ¼ inch long, and brownish gray in color. No matter how small or harmless any bug is, though, a massive number of them congregating around our homes is going to bother even the calmest person. Chinch bugs are around all year, but in mid-to-late spring, they usually multiply and begin gathering in large groups to feed together on various kinds of mustard weed. At the moment, their presence is hard to miss, as they are out numbers ranging from the thousands to even millions. Any person seeing that many bugs grouped together would be a little worried.
While calls regarding chinch bugs began coming in around two to three weeks ago in the Phoenix area, reports of clouds of chinch bugs are now also coming in from Tucson as well. While they don’t generally enter people’s homes, when their numbers get this large, chinch bugs will accidentally find their way inside through gaps in and around window screens and under doors. They have even been known to get blasted inside a home through the swamp cooler vent. Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything you can do about chinch bugs but wait for their numbers to go down once the unbearably hot part of the summer rolls around.
Have you seen any clouds of chinch bugs lately or come across them inside your home?