boll weevil

boll weevil
1. a snout beetle, Anthonomus grandis, that attacks the bolls of cotton.
2. Informal. (esp. in the U.S. Congress) a Southern Democrat with conservative views who often votes with the Republicans as part of a Southern or conservative power bloc.
[1890-95, Amer.]

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Small beetle (Anthonomus grandis) found almost everywhere cotton is cultivated.

It is the most serious cotton pest in North America. Adults vary in size according to how much food they received as larvae, but they average about 0.25 in. (6 mm) long, including the long, curved snout. In the spring adults deposit eggs in cotton buds or fruit. After hatching, the larvae live within the cotton boll, destroying the seeds and surrounding fibres. Because the larvae and pupae remain inside the cotton bolls, they cannot be killed with insecticides. The boll weevil destroys an estimated three to five million bales of cotton annually.

Boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis)

Harry Rogers

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 (Anthonomus grandis), the most serious cotton pest in North America, a beetle of the insect family Curculionidae (order Coleoptera). The size of the adult boll weevil varies according to the amount of food it receives during its larval stage, but it averages about 6 mm (1/4 inch), including the long, curved snout, which is about one-half the body length. The light yellow of the newly emerged adult boll weevil changes to gray or black in several weeks.

      In the spring, adult boll weevils emerge from a partly dormant state and deposit between about 100 and 300 eggs in cotton buds or fruit. The females do not deposit their eggs in cotton bolls already visited by another female at least until most of the bolls are infested. An average of two or three weeks is required for an egg to develop into an adult; thus, there may be from two to ten generations each year.

      The larvae live entirely within the cotton boll, destroying not only the seeds but also the surrounding fibres. Because the larvae and pupae remain inside the cotton bolls for their entire period of development, the application of insecticides at this time is useless.

      The boll weevil occurs in North America in almost every area where cotton is cultivated. It entered the United States from Mexico in the 1890s, causing much damage. It is estimated that between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 bales of cotton are destroyed annually by this pest. It has been said that the boll weevil infestation caused many farmers to realize that they should diversify their crops rather than be totally dependent on cotton. Control programs include early destruction of cotton stalks, cleanup of hibernating areas, seed treatments, early planting, and the development of early maturing and rapid fruiting varieties of cotton.

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Universalium. 2010.

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