History of the Boll Weevil

in the

United States

The Boll Weevil entered the United States near Brownsville, TX in 1892.  The first boll weevil found in Mississippi was on September 20, 1907 by W. D. Hunter.  By 1915 the boll weevil had covered the entire state.  By 1920 all areas to the East were infested.  The boll weevil had covered 600,000 square miles in approximately 30 years.  As the weevil advanced across the South land values plummeted and large numbers of farm workers migrated to northern industrial states.  Since the boll weevil entered the United States a century ago estimates of cost to US cotton producers is estimated to be approximately $13 billion.  Current estimates place loss at approximately $300 million annually.  In 1958 the National Cotton Council passed a resolution addressing the economic hardship caused by the Boll Weevil.  In 1960 the Boll Weevil Research Laboratory was established at MS State University to develop trapping, suppression and reproduction control techniques.  In 1977 a pilot boll weevil eradication project was conducted in south Mississippi.  This pilot project was successful and prepared with way for a full eradication program.
In 1983 a full eradication program was started in North Carolina and South Carolina.  Grower referenda were held by Georgia, Florida and Alabama in 1987.  After referenda were approved eradication efforts began in these states.  In August 1993 the eradication program moved into central and west Alabama.  During this same period the USDA started programs in the far west, SW Arizona, southern California and part of NW Mexico.

The Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation developed and maintains a Geographic Information System (GIS). Beginning in 1992 cotton growers in MS were involved in a volunteer trapping program. Traps were supplied to the grower and trap results were reported to the GIS lab.

Color coded maps were generated showing population densities in each county and state wide. These maps are made available to growers and others with interest in cotton production.

e-mail: msbwmc@ext.msstate.edu