Pink Bollworm Eradication

Pink bollworm eradication is necessary since the pink bollworm came to the western hemisphere in infested seed that were shipped from Egypt to Mexico in 1911. They are currently the key pest of cotton across the Southwest USA and northern Mexico. Lepidoptera are among the foremost destructive insect pests within the world. Lepidopteran larvae cause immense damage to food and forage crops, forests, and stored products. Pink bollworm feeds almost exclusively on cotton and may cause devastating economic loss by dramatically reducing the yield and quality of cotton lint.

The pink bollworm is difficult to regulate with insecticides because the egg is usually protected under the calyx of the boll and it spends the destructive larval phase inside the cotton boll where it’s also well protected. Cultural controls, like a brief season, enforced plowdown and a host-free period, have successfully decreased populations and are widely used but are insufficient to ban economic loss. In years past, Gelechia gossypiella has cost growers in counties of Texas the absolute largest sum as $52 Million USD during a single season. Currently, infestations by Gelechia gossypiella costs USA cotton producers over $32 million USD annually on top of things like costs and yield losses. In addition to production losses, there are quarantine implications that limit cotton export markets.

A six-year (1989–95) areawide program to regulate Gelechia gossypiella in Parker, AZ demonstrated how careful mapping, trapping and prompt application of pheromone mating disruption could drive an important pink bollworm infestation to close zero therein valley. Similarly, from 1994 to 2000, a search trial was conducted to work out if Gelechia gossypiella might be controlled using the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), within the heavily infested Imperial Valley of California. Early successes (and a couple of failures) showed promise and therefore the program was expanded to incorporate the also heavily infested Palo Verde Valley on the California–Arizona border.

SIT is advantageous to Pink bollworm eradication because the insect is released during the benign, adult phase of its life cycle when it feeds innocuously on nectar. Naturally, mating occurs during the adult portion of the pink bollworm’s life cycle. Thus, releasing sterilized adult Pink bollworm doesn’t cause further damage to the cotton and yet reduces the quantity of progeny. During the course of the trial, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton came into widespread use and was incorporated within the experiment. The trial had proven its point by 1999 – SIT alone or SIT with Bt cotton could suppress pink bollworm populations; however, the eradication plan didn’t pass in Arizona and therefore the trial was ended. As in Parker, within the year following the top of every trial, Pink bollworm populations rebounded.

After its faltering start within the West, by 2002 Pink bollworm eradication was active in Texas and New Mexico, following quickly after the Anthonomus grandis Eradication Program. Currently, Pink bollworm is under eradication within the USA, including the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California also as within the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua. Although Pink bollworm eradication was achieved at various times and in specific locations, the event of latest technologies, like mating disruption, transgenic crops and SIT, has once more made Pink bollworm eradication economically feasible.

The Pink bollworm Eradication Program requires multi-year support at the grower and federal level, also as willingness to stay committed to the program. While the US federal provides $4–6 million USD a year for sterile insect rearing and release within the eradication program, the governmental support of the program costs is comparatively small compared to the growers’ 80% share within the funding. The govt also provides scientific support and a framework for the program. Frisvold contends that, given current economic trends, the present price of seed, insecticide and technological costs, the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program will become cost efficient in five years, if non-Bt cotton is purchased, and no technology fees are assessed, or in six years if Bt cotton is actively purchased and technology fees are assessed.

Early infestations of Gelechia gossypiella within the USA underwent cycles of eradication and reintroduction as various counties came under and went out of quarantine regulations. Past government initiatives, like the Pink Bollworm Act of 1918 didn’t have the legal backing to enforce cultural and sanitary controls. As a result, cotton growers refused to follow the govt programs and enforcement was unable, and sometimes unwilling, to enforce laws. While many cotton growers wanted gelechia gossypiella out of their fields, infestations continued to plague growers because they were not willing to follow the Pink Bollworm Act of 1918.

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