Boll Weevils

Over the last century boll weevils have represented the most serious threat to cotton production around the world. Adult females deposit eggs in the cotton flower bud and the larvae and newly hatched young proceed to feed on the maturing cotton boll destroying the crop. The map below shows the progress of the boll weevil infestation in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today there are statues to the boll weevil in the South recognizing the positive result of the infestation - the forced diversification of southern agriculture. In the first few decades of the 20th century, though, the bug caused agricultural, economic, and social devastation affecting black and white southerners alike.

Print Version of Map

To Start You Thinking -

  • 1) Where and when was the boll weevil first found in the United States? What does this suggest about its origin?

    2) When did the boll weevil infestation first arrive in Alabama?

    3) Briefly describe the spread of the boll weevil across the southern United States from its introduction until 1922.

source U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Map of the Boll Weevil Invasion," Farmers' Bulletin, # 1329 , June, 1923.
Last modified in October, 2011 by Rick Thomas