It’s been many, many years since we’ve heard of a major infestation of the boll weevil in cotton, due in no small part to folks like Phil Wilson, NCDA Plant Pest Administrator, and his team. Wilson says the eradication effort started in the Tar Heel State:
“The boll weevil program started in NC and has been very successful in pushing the boll weevil south and west in the US. Currently, infestations are occurring in the lower Rio Grande part of Texas. The rest of the country is pretty much weevil free. Its been very successful and we do continue a monitoring program.”
North Carolina employs that trap system explains Wilson:
“The traps are monitored once a month. If we were to catch a positive trap, then we would go in and do a more intense trapping scheme to pin down where the infestation is. Then, after that is found, you would begin a spray operation, and continue the trapping all along.”
Wilson says that equipment as well as plants in the field is also monitored for the boll weevil:
“We also monitor things like equipment. Module haulers many times they will be brought in through contracts so we work with the gins to make sure they are clean and inspected so the weevil wont be brought in that way. We have found over the years that the weevils that are brought in are by man, through mechanical means or others.”
But, one problem area persists, and that’s the lower Rio Grande of Texas:
“The US has tried to work with Mexico for eradication, but its very dangerous because of the drug business. Its hard to find people who will work along the border behind the wall. Once you go behind the wall, its dangerous. We have offered to send equipment down there but it was too difficult to get them across the border.”
Therefore, south Texas cotton farmers will probably continue to struggle with the pest.
Phil Wilson, NCDA Plant Pest Administrator.