Boll weevils almost gone

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 10, 2010

VIDALIA — The boll weevil could be eradicated in the state of Louisiana within the year, and because of that the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry wants to know where every piece of cotton is in the state.

Last year, boll weevil traps — which are used in the monitoring of weevil populations for the eradication program — captured approximately 300 weevils, down from 14,000 the previous year, Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Todd Parker said.

“We used to put out more than 100,000 traps in cotton fields, but that number is down significantly given that the program is somewhat winding down in the state,” he said.

Because the program is winding down — and its funding with it — it’s important that no fields or cotton stands go unmonitored and allow weevils to hide out in them.

That’s why the LDAF requires that anyone growing any amount of cotton notify them, Parker said.

“We want to make sure we know where locations of cotton are so we can place boll weevil traps at those locations,” he said.

“We keep up with weekly numbers to make sure we don’t see a resurgence in certain fields and if we do we have protocol in place to go in and spray those fields as necessary. The whole idea is to get down to that zero number (of weevils).”

Some people grow cotton for ornamental purposes, and others grow it to produce their own fiber for thread weaving, but even those small stands need to be registered for monitoring, Parker said.

“We really haven’t (seen weevils in ornamental stands) but it is something we want to make sure, if people want to plant cotton at their house that could present a problem for us,” he said.

“We don’t want any problems to rise up.”

For more information about planting non-commercial or ornamental cotton, contact the Louisiana Boll Weevil Eradication Program at 225-952-8105.

The boll weevil eats cotton buds and flowers, and is historically the most destructive of the cotton pests. Boll Weevil eradication efforts began in the 1970s.