MARANA – Imagine having a cotton field and this pink caterpillar like worm destroy it. Two decades of research by scientists and now a remarkable achievement is bringing hope to farmers and future crops.
“We have completely eliminated the pink bollworm which had been plaguing cotton growers a century,” said Head of Entomology at University of Arizona Bruce Tabashnik.
The University of Arizona was just given an award from the USDA for their work on eradicating these pests.
They might seem small but the pink bollworm can destroy an entire cotton field.
They are not native to North America. In fact, it was introduced by accident to Arizona 100 years ago.
“It gave the cotton growers fits trying to control, mainly with insecticides sprays and before this eradication program began, it was costing the cotton growers in the United States about $35 million a year,” said Tabashnik.
Cotton growers like Jon Post have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to keep the pink bollworm out.
“If you look at the cotton field behind me, and it looks just perfectly white. When we were fighting pink bollworm there was every chance in the world that there would be no cotton on that plant, said Post.”
Cotton is used for a lot of items, from the clothes we wear to dish towels at home.
“The cotton industry is worth about $17 billion a year and creates 10’s of thousands of jobs,” said Tabashnik.
Post said this achievement by the U of A scientists is a pretty big deal.
“I mean to be able to fight this pink bollworm for 100 years and eventually win in the end, that’s a big deal.”