Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2004
Publication Date: 12/1/2004
Citation: Sappington, T.W., Brashears, A.D., Parajulee, M.N., Carroll, S.C., Arnold, M.D., Baker, Jr., R.V. 2004. Potential for escape of live boll weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) into cottonseed, motes, and cleaned lint at the cotton gin. Journal of Economic Entomology. 97:1773-1781. Interpretive Summary: The boll weevil is a major pest of cotton, and great efforts are underway to eradicate it from the U.S. There is concern that if gins in eradicated or weevil-suppressed areas process harvested cotton from neighboring infested areas, weevils may escape to reinfest the eradication zone. Similarly, there is a question whether weevil free areas can safely import gin products, such as cottonseed and baled lint, from infested areas without risking an introduction. Many countries require fumigation of imported U.S. cotton bales to protect against boll weevil introductions, costing the U.S. cotton industry millions of dollars annually. This study determined the chances for boll weevil survival through the part of the ginning process that separates the seed from the cotton fiber, which we found to be very low. Based on the results of this study and previous experiments we have conducted, we conclude that fumigation of cottonseed or cotton bales to guard against boll weevil introductions is unnecessary. This study provides regulatory and action agencies with information necessary to assess the risk of boll weevil introduction to weevil-free areas through ginning of infested seed cotton or export of gin products, and to design appropriate guidelines to manage that risk.
Technical Abstract: Reintroductions of the boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis Boheman) into areas of the U.S. where it has been eradicated or suppressed are very expensive to mitigate. There is concern that a cotton gin in an eradication zone may serve as a site of boll weevil reintroductions when processing cotton harvested in a neighboring infested zone. Similarly, there is a question whether weevil free areas can safely import gin products, such as cottonseed and baled lint, from infested areas without risking an introduction. Many countries require fumigation of imported U.S. cotton bales to protect against boll weevil introductions, costing the U.S. cotton industry millions of dollars annually. In previously reported experiments, we quantified the potential for boll weevils to survive passage through precleaning machinery in the gin. In this study, we quantified survival potential of boll weevils passing through the gin stand and segregating into the cottonseed, mote, or lint fractions. We also examined boll weevil survival when passed with ginned lint through a lint cleaner. We present a flow chart of experimentally determined survival potentials of boll weevils passing through the various subprocesses of the gin, from which one can calculate the risk of a live boll weevil reaching any point in the process. Our data show that there is virtually no chance of a boll weevil being segregated alive into the cottonseed, or of one surviving in the lint to approach the bale press. Therefore, fumigation of cottonseed or cotton bales to guard against boll weevil introductions is unnecessary.