Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 31, 2006
Publication Date: February 1, 2007
Citation: Showler, A.T., Abrigo, V. 2007. Common subtropical and tropical nonpollen food sources of the boll weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Environmental Entomology 36(1):99-104.
Interpretive Summary: It is known that substantial boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman, populations can survive mild subtropical winters in some habitats, such as citrus orchards, but it is not known what, if anything, they feed on. This study assessed the capacity of selected nonpollen boll weevil food sources common to subtropical and tropical environments for their capacities to support boll weevils and to enable gravidity and fecundity. Although adult boll weevils did not produce eggs when fed exclusively on the endocarps of prickly pear, orange, or grapefuit, these plants made it possible for some boll weevils to survive cotton-free winter periods lasting more than five months.
It is known that substantial boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman, populations can survive mild subtropical winters in some habitats, such as citrus orchards. Our study shows that endocarp of the fruit from prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii Salm-Dyck ex. Engel.; orange, Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck.; and grapefruit, Citrus paradisi Macfad., can sustain newly-emerged adult boll weevil for more than five months, which is the duration of the cotton-free season in the subtropical Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and other cotton-growing areas in the Western Hemisphere. Cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., and the boll weevil occur in the same areas with one or all three plant species (or other citrus and Opuntia species that might also nourish boll weevils) from South Texas to Argentina. Although adult boll weevils did not produce eggs when fed exclusively on the endocarps of prickly pear, orange, or grapefuit, these plants make it possible for boll weevils to survive from one cotton growing season to the next. This might also explain how individual boll weevils have been found far from cotton-growing areas. Potential impacts of our findings on boll weevil control are discussed.