False Chinch Bugs Impact Young Avocado Trees in Ventura County
The false chinch bug is problematic for a wide range of crops — from soybeans to broccoli. This year, young avocado plantings in Ventura County are a favorite for the pest.
False chinch bug populations tend to start in unmanaged fields that have a robust weed population and then move to crops or groves to feed. Most damage occurs in the trees closest to the uncultivated fields or grasslands. Because the pests can create 4 – 7 generations in one year, they tend to be present in all developmental stages throughout the year.
The false chinch bug also favors young, immature trees — feeding off the sap in the young shoots and stems. The infested shoots often wither and die, with most damage occurring in May or June. Mature trees, in comparison, tend to better tolerate the pests.
The best way to manage the pest is to prevent populations from growing in the unmanaged fields near one’s groves. Monitor weedy areas in late winter or early spring, looking for bugs on fences or in the grass. If you identify the pest, treat the weedy borders to kill the bugs before they migrate. When monitoring groves, use a targeted approach in summer and focus on inspecting young avocado plantings.
Dr. Ben Faber’s new blog post provides photos of the false chinch bugs and infestations on leaves.