False Chinch Bugs In Southeast New Mexico

Little Black Bugs Invade Southeast New Mexico

It's almost time again. It happens every year here in Carlsbad, and to some extent, most of Southeast New Mexico. The return of the False Chinch Bugs.

Generally, at the end of every Spring as the weather starts to warm and the Mustard Weed dies off, we start to get the calls. Some years, the calls come in for weeks. Most folks don't have a clue what a False Chinch Bug is. They're just thousands of little black bugs that are invading yards and homes.

But First, The Truth About False Chinch Bugs

Before I get into all the details about what is a False Chinch Bug, where they come from, what kind of damage they cause, and how to get rid of them, let's look at the truth about False Chinch Bugs and their control.

As I said before, in the Spring the phone rings off the hook from concerned folks who are being invaded by the little black bugs. They want a professional pest control service to come out and make them magically disappear.

To be honest and up front -

  • They generally go away within two to three weeks all by themselves whether we spray or not. (More On This Below And What You Can Do To Get Rid Of Them)
  • Yes, we can come spray but it won't be the end of them. They are so widespread and there are so many of them that even if we spray everyday, there will still be bugs until they finish their life cycles.
  • There are possibly billions of False Chinch Bugs in an infestation. We'll get at least a 75% to 90% kill. And out of a billion False Chinch Bugs, that still leaves a hundred million little black bugs.
  • We've yet to see any real damage in a residential setting here in Carlsbad. And other than them being a nuisance, the main thing to be concerned with is young new garden plants, seedlings, and ornamentals. Also, keeping them out of your home.
  • They're not harmful to people or pets

Where Did They Come From?

Chances are, they're already in your yard. If you had them last year, the bugs and their eggs are already there.

False chinch bugs spend the winter and colder months as nymphs (baby False Chinch Bugs) and adults under leaf litter and other debris near their favorite food sources. This include cold weather annuals like the mustard (London Rocket) which is so prevalent around Carlsbad in the Winter and Spring.

The females lay eggs in loose soils and in cracks in the soil. The eggs hatch in around four days. The nymphs (baby false chinch bugs) feed for three weeks or so until they reach adulthood.

Adults can live for an average of two to three weeks feeding on host plants such as the Mustard. There can be up to four hatches and generations a season. Other common plants around Southeast New Mexico that they like are Russian thistle (Common Tumbleweed), Sage, and Kochia.

Do False Chinch Bugs Cause Damage?

The False Chinch Bug is a plant eating insect. And while they are a threat to many agricultural crops and ornamental plants, we've yet to see any noticeable damage in a residential setting. They're more of a nuisance than anything. And again, they don't cause any harm to people or pets.

How Long Does The Infestation Last?

As I said earlier, it will take two to three weeks for the False Chinch Bugs to subside in a given area. However, this is relative to the area of Carlsbad and Southeast New Mexico that you're in. The infestation in the entire region takes a bit longer than that. Again, this is due to the many micro-climates that exist in our area.

If you'll notice, the Mustard sprouts and dominates the area at different times during the season. Areas like North Shore and Riverside Drive along the Pecos River start to warm up quicker due to the heat the river holds. Areas like Ocotillo Heights up by C-Hill start to warm a little later. And even further out like in Otis and LaHuerta will start to warm even a little later.

And so, since the Mustard infestation occurs at different times, so does the False Chinch Bug infestation. So, even though the little black bugs may be in your area for two to three weeks, they will actually be in the Carlsbad area for up to three months or so.

What You Can Do To Control Them

As I stated before, it will be two to three weeks for the False Chinch Bugs to thin out and start to go away. And while we'll be glad to come out and do treatments to help get rid of them, it's really not much more than you can do yourself. Here are a few things you can do -

  • Mow the lawn short and cut or spray the weeds. And especially those close to the house. And while chances are good that your neighbors are infested as well, you can pass this info on to them as well.
  • Protect your garden and ornamentals using a repellant insect spray or Sevin Dust.
  • To help keep them out of your home, make sure all of your weather stripping around doors and windows seals correctly.
  • Also, to help keep them out of the home, use a repellant insect spray around entries and windows.

Professional Pest Control Services

So there you have the basics about what a False Chinch Bug is, its habits, and the truth about their control. You can use this information to get some control or you can call a professional pest control service.

If this is the case and you live in Carlsbad or the surrounding area, give Horizon Pest Control a call for service at 575-725-9331. We'll be glad to come out and help you with the False Chinch Bugs, the surrounding weeds, or both.