Boll Weevils

Boll WeevilThe boll weevil adults are an average length of six millimeters, brown to grayish-brown, fuzzy beetles; with prominent snouts and mouthparts for chewing. This insect only feeds and grows in cotton and closely related tropical plants.

Thought to be native to Central America, this invasive pest control problem migrated into the United States from Mexico, in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas; by the 1920s. Mississippi State University has estimated that since the boll weevil entered the United States, it has cost U.S. cotton producers about $13 billion, and in recent times about $300 million; per year. Today, it remains the most destructive cotton pest in North America.

The boll weevil population can expand quickly, when a single female of the species can lay up to 200 eggs, over a 10-12 day period. And, under ideal conditions, there could be eight to 10 generations; per season. However, this is only in ideal conditions. Boll weevils will begin to die when temperatures reach 23 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and they cannot survive more than an hour; at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, other limitations such as extreme heat and drought, as well as natural predators that include fire ants, spiders and birds, can have an adverse effect; on boll weevil populations. In fact, entomologists at Texas A&M have indicated that the spread of another insect control problem, the fire ant, has caused a decline of the weevils’ population; in that region.

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