Winter Soft on Boll Weevils (195)

JACKSON, Tenn. — Cold weather sometimes helps cotton farmers by killing large numbers of over-wintering boll weevils, but this season probably was too mild to have a significant impact on the insect pest.

 Ron Seward, an entomologist in the University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Service, predicted boll weevil populations will be average to slightly above-average this spring and summer.

 “We go back and look at conditions in years when the population of boll weevils was low and make our educated estimates,” Seward said.

 Some single-digit temperatures were recorded this winter in the West Tennessee cotton belt, but there was snow cover in many areas at the time, which insulated the boll weevil from the frigid air, Seward said.

 “With snow cover, we don’t get the full effect,” Seward said.

 Boll weevils go into diapause, which is similar to hibernation, during the winter. Prior to diapause, the insects eat enough to build up fat reserves to get through the winter, Seward said.

 Seward said he would have a better idea how many boll weevils survived the winter when traps can be put out in early April to catch the insect for counting. The boll weevil damages the cotton boll.

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 Contact: Ron Seward (901-425-4718)