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Boll Weevil

Boll Weevil

Boll Weevil

Boll Weevilis the most serious pest of cotton. Since its arrival in the United States, it is estimated that actual damage loss combined with control costs attributed to boll weevil exceed $ 16 billion.

adults are brown to grayish brown, fuzzy beetles with prominent snouts bearing the mouthparts, and varying in size from 1/8 to almost ½ inches long. Larval stages, found inside cotton squares and bolls, are legless grubs with brown heads that grow to about ½ inch long before forming a pupa that resembles the adult features but appears mummy-like.

Adult weevils feed on and lay eggs in developing cotton bolls. Feeding punctures appear as small uncapped holes, while egg-laying punctures are covered with a small wart-like growth. Both types of punctures will cause squares and small bolls to drop. The white, legless larva feeds and pupates within the square or boll.

Life Cycle: Weevils that emerge before cotton plants begin to form squares, feed on leaf buds and growing terminals, and live for only a week or two; those that emerge later produce eggs for 3 – 6 weeks. Later generations survive the winter in a diapause state. The female deposits eggs singly in the bottom of punctures she makes in the cotton squares and later in the season in bolls. Overwintered females produce fewer than 100 eggs.

Boll Weevil Larva

Boll Weevil Larva

Later generations produce 300 or more eggs. The average female’s rate of reproduction is 5 or 6 eggs a day. Depending on the temperature, larvae hatch in 3 – 4 days. Larvae feed for 7 – 14 days and pupate. Adults emerge 3 – 6 days later. A sex pheromone facilitates mating, after which the females begin laying eggs in 3 – 5 days. Two to seven generations can occur in a season.

Damage:damage to cotton by the boll weevil is caused by females laying eggs and larvae feeding. In heavy infestations, nearly every square receives an egg as soon as it is large enough to support the development of a larva (when squares are roughly the size of a pencil eraser); under these conditions, virtually no fruit may be set. The potential for damage is greater because of the boll weevil’s short generation time. Two or more generations may occur during viable fruit set. You could lose more than 50 percent of your crop to boll weevils; complete crop failures have occurred.

Squares and small bolls fed on by adult boll weevils typically drop from the plant. Larger bolls may not drop but may be more susceptible to invasion by boll-rot organisms. Adults feed on terminals of seedling cotton before squares are available. In rare instances, this feeding causes enough injury to reduce stand or retard plant growth.

Boll Weevil Damage

Boll Weevil Damage

Control: Satisfactory control depends upon a combination of cultural and chemical methods. Recommended cultural practices early planting, stimulating rapid growth by thorough preparation of the seed bed, by adequate fertilization and by recommended weed control practices. Selection of early maturing varieties specifically adapted to local areas. The main objective of these practices is to hasten the development of cotton plants and set a crop before weevils become abundant.

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