Boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman (Coloeoptera: Curculionidae), populations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas increase strongly during the squaring stage, and preemptive insecticide sprays at the pinhead square stage were designed to capitalize on that association. Laboratory assays showed that cotton plant volatiles, or leaves as a food source, do not elicit egg production in wild weevils. Boll weevils fed on large (5.5–8-mm diameter) squares for 7 d resulted in ≥3.8-fold more gravid females that developed 4.8-fold more chorionated eggs per female than weevils fed on match-head-sized squares, or postbloom, young (5–10-d-old), or old (3–5-wk-old) bolls. When presented with a choice, nongravid females preferred to feed on young and old bolls 4.7- and 8.4-fold more, respectively, than on large squares. In the field, large squares had 7.8- and 25-fold more feeding punctures than match-head-sized squares and bolls, respectively. Oviposition increased ≥2.7-fold when females fed on large squares compared with match-head-sized squares and bolls. Greater feeding on large squares during squaring and the associated greater fecundity explain rapid weevil population buildups shortly after large squares become well established.
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Vol. 97 • No. 4