For the last half century, the pesky pink bollworm (PBW or ‘pinkie’) insect - Pectinophora gossypiella - has attacked cotton bolls, damaged fiber and seeds, and reduced yields in fields in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas, plus the states of Calexico and Chihuahua in northern Mexico.
Now, climb aboard cotton’s time warp machine to 2014.
“Today, there has not been a native fertile moth captured in a trap across the four-state area and northern Mexico for two full years,” said Clyde Sharp, a Roll, Ariz. cotton grower who has helped lead PBW eradication efforts at the state and national levels for almost a decade.
This is the region’s first year of eradication of the insect. Cotton growers in the four-state area are possibly three years away from full eradication; if the crop-destroying insect fails to rear its ugly head again.
This accomplishment is truly a feat for the history books.
“I believe that we have accomplished eradication,” Sharp declared to the large cotton industry crowd gathered for the Arizona Cotton Industry Meeting held in Flagstaff, Ariz. in June.
“Pink bollworm eradication is a great story to tell,” Sharp said. “It’s a wonderful story when you consider we’re dealing with near eradication across the entire southwestern U.S.”
The last native pinkie find was found in an insect trap in Yuma County, Ariz. in May 2012. The Yuma area is considered ground zero for pinkie movement from Mexico into the U.S. and then movement elsewhere in the states.