There are moles living in my yard, and I know they’re here because there are lots of yummy earthworms to eat, and this actually pleases me because when I bought my home over 15 years ago, it was newly constructed and stood on positively sterile, compacted sand that I spent many weekends enriching. The day I turned a spade of earth and saw my first earthworm was a day of rejoicing.
I also spent the weekends of those first five years hand-plugging my front yard with pieces of St. Augustine grass donated by friends when they edged their flower beds or otherwise dug up choice pieces of their own lawn. So, while my backyard is completely devoid of lawn, I do have a little bit of lawn in the front and on the sides of the house. And I pay good money to have it mowed, trimmed, fertilized, and treated for weeds and chinch bugs. And in return, it has behaved and looked pretty good. Right up until I became ill.
There’s this miserable stretch between the magnolia and the small oak, along the front near the sidewalk, that has now been ruled by chinch bugs for the past 3 years. They are somewhat held at bay, but the war wages back and forth, with no one the clear victor. Which means the grass there isn’t dead, but it don’t look at that purdy either. It’s like they have an underground wall of China under there.
Today, they expanded operations. As I returned from getting the mail, I saw a 3-foot circle of brown in the lawn on the south side of the driveway, a circle of dead grass dotted with tiny surviving islands of green. Chinch! Chinch bugs suck the sap from the grass at the crown point where the blade emerges from the runner, or rhizome. As they feed on the sap, chinch bugs release their saliva into the wound, causing the grass to turn yellow and die. Hateful creatures.
There’s only about 20 feet by 8 feet of grass on the south side of the house that belongs to me (although all of the grass across the property line growing in the neighbor’s yard is from my invasive lawn, which means they got their lawn for free) and, if not dealt with promptly, can be demolished by chinch within a month.
I hope this is the third shoe in my current streak of disasters, because (1) the service I’m already paying for has to come out (at no further additional expense to me) and treat this outbreak and (2) no other inopportune fuck-ups should raise their ugly heads for awhile.
I wish moles ate chinch bugs. That would make me really, really happy.