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BOLL WEEVIL

 

Anthonomus grandis Boheman-- Coleoptera, Curculionidae

 

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Overview

 

The boll weevil occurs as several distinct biotypes in North and South America.  External adult characteristics distinguish three kinds, (1) A. grandis grandis (Burke 1968, Warner & Smith 1968), the southeastern boll weevil, found in northwestern Mexico, throughout the southeastern United States, Hispaniola and in northern Colombia and Venezuela (Cross 1973, Warner 1966).  Anthonomus grandis thurberiae, the thurberia boll weevil (Burke 1968) occurs in southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico; and the Mexican boll weevil (Burke 1968) which probably includes intermediates, is distributed throughout the rest of Mexico, Central America and Cuba (Cross 1973).

 

These three types differ in their severity of attack of commercial cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L.  For example, the thurberia weevil has infested wild cotton in parts of Arizona since 1912 with occasional small invasions in cultivated cotton in areas where flooding has caused movement of wild cotton bolls (D. Bryan, pers. commun., Ridgway 1982).  Such infestations generally have been found in Arizona along the Santa Cruz River northward from Tucson and into the Casa Grande area.  Occasional infestations have been found westward along the Gila River.  In 1963 a more destructive form of the boll weevil was found in Arizona cotton, which was believed to be a new strain migrating from Mexico.  Scattered severe infestations were found by 1965, especially in stub cotton.  Stub cotton was banned by the Arizona Commission of Agriculture and Horticulture in 1965, and a mandatory plow down date to provide a host-free period was adopted.  Boll weevil ceased to be a problem with the elimination of stub cotton.

 

Stub cotton was again permitted in Arizona in 1978, followed by an increase of boll weevil attacks.  However, no infestations were found in planted cotton that year.  In 1980 boll weevil was found infesting a number of fields between Buckeye and Gila Bend, and by 1983 widespread boll weevil infestations were found in both stub and planted cotton fields.  This infestation eventually reached the Imperial Valley, California where it was eradicated with insecticides (D. Bryan, pers. commun., Ridgway 1982).

 

Natural Biological Control

 

Cotton farmers in the southeastern United States relied heavily on natural biological control to reduce populations of boll weevil and other pests in the early 1900's (Bottrell 1976, Cross 1973; Howell 1907, 1909; Pierce 1912); but the boll weevil was not adequately controlled (Lincoln 1969).

 

Over 40 species of parasitoids of the boll weevil are known (Cross & Chestnut 1971, Cross & McGovern 1969).  The most effective parasitoids are Bracon mellitor in the United States (Adams et al. 1969) and Heterolaccus grandis in western Mexico and Central America (Cross & Mitchell 1969).  In Arizona native parasitoids are scarce, with Bracon thurberiaphagae being the major species (Fye 1968, Fye & Parencia 1972).   A mite, Lepitus sp., was thought to do some damage to boll weevil adults in South Carolina (Roach & Walker 1970).

 

Of the few pathogens associated with boll weevils, the protozoans Mattesia grandis and Glugea gasti were most prominent (Bell & McLaughlin 1970, McLaughlin 1966, 1967, 1969; McLaughlin & Adams 1966a,b; McLaughlin et al. 1988, Vavra & McLaughlin 1970).  Also, a bacterium, Serratia marcescens and other species have been studied (McLaughlin et al. 1966, Slatten & Larson 1967).

 

Glugea gasti and Mattesia grandis were mass-reared on boll weevil cultures, and by incorporation with a bait, were established in native autumn populations to reduce spring emergence (Cross 1973, McLaughlin & Bell 1970, McLaughlin et al. 1969).

 

It has been generally accepted by some that the native parasitoids of boll weevil in northern Mexico and the United States rarely, if ever, exert economic suppression on a population of boll weevil (Cross 1973).  Thus, it was not surprising that the introduced species Bracon kirkpatricki (Wilkinson) which could be reared and released in large numbers provided additional biological control.  However, others regarded natural enemies as extremely important in suppression populations (Bottrell 1976).

 

Importation of Natural Enemies

 

The first attempt at biological control of the boll weevil was in 1904, when the predaceous ant Ectatomma tuberculatum (Ol.) was imported from Guatemala (Clausen et al. 1978); but establishment was not attained.  Following a search for natural enemies on related host species in Peru during 1941-45, the parasitoids Triaspis vestiticida Vier. and Bracon vestiticida (Vier.) were imported into the southeastern United States (Berry 1947); but again, establishment was unsuccessful.

 

Bottrell (1976) considered that the whole field of biological control of the boll weevil needed to be reexamined and fortified with administrative support.  Of especial importance were (1) studies of native parasitoids, pathogens and predators which attack the boll weevil; and interspecies relationships and response to boll weevil density and to other hosts; and the role of hyperparasitoids;  (2) manipulation strategies with native parasitoids (interplantings of cotton and wild plants that support alternate insect hosts of boll weevil parasitoids); use of selective baits impregnated with pathogens; (3) the discovery and importation of new natural enemies (Bottrell 1976).  It was pointed out that although there have been several attempts to introduce natural enemies for establishment, work in foreign exploration and introduction has been especially neglected (Bottrell 1976).  The last attempt to find natural enemies in the mountains east of Mazatlán in the mid 1980's resulted in the murder of the key explorer by bandits.

 

 

REFERENCES:            [ Additional references may be found at:   MELVYL Library ]

 

 

Adams, C. H., W. H. Cross & H. C. Mitchell.  1969.  Biology of Bracon mellitor, a parasite of the boll weevil.  J. Econ. Ent. 62:  889-96.

 

Bell, M. R. & R. E. McLaughlin.  1970.  Influence of the protozoan Mattesia grandis McLaughlin on the toxicity to the boll weevil of four insecticides.  J. Econ. Ent. 63:  266-69.

 

Berry, P. A.  1947.  Anthonomus vestitus and its natural enemies in Peru, and their importation into the United States.  J. Econ. Ent. 40:  802-04.

 

Bottrell, D. G.  1976.  Biological control agents of the boll weevil.  Proc. Conf. "Boll Weevil Suppression, Management and Elimination Technology," Feb. 13-15, 1974, Memphis, Tenn.  Agric. Res. Svc, U. S. Dept. Agric. ARS-S-71:  22-5.

 

Burke, H. R.  1968.  Geographic variation and taxonomy of Anthonomus grandis Boheman.  Tex. Agr. Exp. Sta. Dep. Ent. Tech. Rept.  152 p.

 

Clausen, C. P. (ed.)  1978a.  Introduced parasites and predators of arthropod pests and weeds:  a world review.  Agric. Handb. No. 48, U. S. Dept. Agric., Wash., D.C.  545 p.

 

Cross, W. H.  1973.  Biology, control and eradication of the boll weevil.  Ann. Rev. Ent. 18:  17-46.

 

Cross, W. H. & T. L. Chesnut.  1971.  Arthropod parasites of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis:  I.  An annotated list.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 64:  516-27.

 

Cross, W. H. & W. L. McGovern.  1969.  New parasites, Zatropis perdubius and Megaselia aletiae, of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 62:  674.

 

Cross, W. H. & H. C. Mitchell.  1969.  Distribution and importance of Heterolaccus grandis as a parasite of the boll weevil.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 62:  235-36.

 

Cross, W. H., W. L. McGovern & H. C. Mitchell.  1969.  Biology of Bracon kirkpatricki and field releases of the parasite for control of the boll weevil.  J. Econ. Ent. 62:  448-54.

 

Fye, R. E.  1968.  The thurberia weevil in Arizona.  J. Econ. Ent. 61:  1264-68.

 

Fye, R. E. & C. R. Parencia, Jr.  1972.  The boll weevil complex in Arizona.  U. S. Dept. Agric., Agric. Res. Serv., Prod. Res. Rep. No. 139.  24 p.

 

Howell, A. H.  1907.  The relation of birds to the cotton boll weevil.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Bur. Biol. Serv. Bull. 29.  30 p.

 

Howell, A. H.  1909.  Destruction of the cotton boll weevil by birds in winter.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Bur. Biol. Surv. Circ. 64.  5 p.

 

Lincoln, C.  1969.  The effect of agricultural practices on insect habitats in a typical Delta community.  Proc. Tall Timbers Conf. Ecol. Anim. Contr. Habitat Manage. 1:  13-18.

 

McLaughlin, R. E.  1966.  Laboratory techniques for rearing disease-free insect colonies:  Elimination of Mattesia grandis McLaughlin, and Nosema sp. from colonies of boll weevils.  J. Econ. ent. 59:  401-404.

 

McLaughlin, R. E.  1966b.  Infection of the boll weevil with Mattesia grandis induced by a feeding stimulant.  J. Econ. Ent. 59:  909-11.

 

McLaughlin, R. E.  1967.  Development of the bait principle for boll weevil control.  II.  Field-cage tests with a feeding stimulant and the protozoan Mattesia grandis.  J. Invertebr. Path. 9:  70-7.

 

McLaughlin, R. E.  1969.  Glugea gasti sp. n., a microsporidian pathogen of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis.  J. Protozool. 16:  84-92.

 

McLaughlin, R. E. & C. H. Adams.  1966.  Infection of Bracon mellitor by Mattesia grandis.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 59:  800-02.

 

McLaughlin, R. E. & M. R. Bell.  1970.  Mass production in vivo of two protozoan pathogens, Mattesia grandis and Glugea gasti, of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis.  J. Invertebr. Path. 16:  84-8.

 

McLaughlin, R. E., M. R. Bell & S. D. Veal.  1966.  Bacterial and fungi associated with the dead boll weevils (Anthonomus grandis) in a natural population.  J. Invertebr. Path. 8:  401-08.

 

McLaughlin, R. E., T. C. Cleveland, R. J. Daum & M. R. Bell.  1969.  Development of the bait principle for boll weevil control.  IV.  Field tests with a bait containing a feeding stimulant and the sporozoans Glugea gasti and Mattesia grandis.  J. Invertebr. Path. 13:  429-441.

 

Pierce, W. D.  1912.  The insect enemies of the cotton boll weevil.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Bur. Ent. Bull. 100.  99 p.

 

Roach, S. H. & J. T. Walker.  1970.  A parasitic mite found on boll weevils near Florence, South Carolina in 1968.  J. Econ. Ent. 63:  646-47.

 

Slatten, B. H. & A. D. Larson.  1967.  Mechanism of pathogenicity of Serratia marcescens.  I.  Virulence for the adult boll weevil.  J. Invertebr. Path. 9:  78-81.

 

Vavra, J. & R. E. McLaughlin.  1970.  The fine structure of some developmental stages of Mattesia grandis McLaughlin, a parasite of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis Boheman.  J. Protozool. 17:  483-96.

 

Warner, R. E.  1966.  Taxonomy of the subspecies of Anthonomus grandis.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 59: 1073-88.

 

Warner, R. E. & C. E. Smith, Jr.  1968.  Boll weevil found in pre-Columbian cotton from Mexico.  Science 162:  911-12.