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  • Boll Weevil - (Anthonomus grandis)

    Boll Weevil - (Anthonomus grandis)

    The Boll Weevil is known historically as the greatest pest to cotton the U.S. South has ever faced.

    Picture of Boll Weevil

    Staff Writer (11/21/2013): Long the bane of cotton farmers, the Boll Weevil has finally been controlled with biotechnology. The only plant this particular weevil attacks is cotton which happens to be the most commonly used fabric in North America. After heavy use of pesticides to reduce Boll Weevil populations did not completely eradicate their threat to crops, the plant itself was genetically altered to eliminate the Boll Weevil's interest in eating it. The Boll Weevil Eradication Program (BWEP) was initiated and a gene was inserted into the cotton plant's DNA that allowed the cotton plant to produce a chemical protein that is toxic to Boll Weevils. The effectiveness of this genetically modified cotton led to the drastic reduction in the amount of pesticides that are used on cotton plants.

    A small percentage of farmers do not use the genetically altered cotton plant and are able to sell their organic cotton harvest which has recently become visible in the American clothing, linen and bedding markets. Natural predators of the Boll Weevil include spiders, fire ants and a parasitic wasp native to Mexico.

    The Boll Weevil gets its name from the bolls it destroyed. Bolls are the protective cases around the fibrous balls of cotton. As the cotton plant forms buds, the Boll Weevil devours the buds, preventing any usable cotton from developing.

    The Boll Weevil itself has an extremely round body and can be a shade of brown or gray with short hairs covering its thorax and abdomen ('shoulders' and 'tail'). It has a tubular mouthpiece that resemble the shape of an anteater's snout or a downward-curved elephant's trunk.

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    Details of the:
    Boll Weevil

    Category: Beetle
    Common name: Boll Weevil
    Scientific Name: Anthonomus grandis
    Other Names: Weevil

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Coleoptera
          Family: Curculionidae
           Genus: Anthonomus
            Species: grandis

    Size (Adult, Length): 3mm to 13mm (0.12in to 0.51in)

    Identifying Colors: brown; gray

    Additional Descriptors: harmful, snout, trunk, nose, anteater, hairy

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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