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Cotton Insect Pests

More than a dozen different species of insect pests attack the cotton crop. Each of these pests is capable of causing economic yield loss, and some, such as the tobacco budworm, are capable of totally destroying a crop. Cotton growers may invest large sums of money per acre in producing cotton. And all of this investment is potentially at risk to insect damage. The cost of controlling insects is one of the larger items in the crop production budget.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is practiced on all of Mississippi's cotton acreage. Producers utilize a variety of non-insecticidal management tools to limit the number of times that pests exceed economic thresholds and consequently require treatment with insecticides. However, timely judicious use of insecticides is an important component of cotton IPM. Recommendations for cotton insect management are published in the Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops, which is revised annually to incorporate the latest technology and research.

Because pest populations can change quickly, cotton insect management is both information intensive and time sensitive. During the growing season, fields must be scouted every three to four days, and accurate estimates of pest populations must be determined by time consuming sampling procedures. Because of the time involved in making these counts, most Mississippi producers contract the services of a professional crop consultant, usually for a per acre scouting fee, to monitor insect populations and make treatment recommendations.

For a more detailed summary of cotton insect management in the state, see the Overview of Cotton Insect Management in Mississippi. To see pictures of the major insect pests attacking Mississippi cotton check out the Cotton Insect Identification section and for brief tips on the best methods to scout for these pests see Cotton Insect Scouting Methods.

Publications

Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops
Insect Scouting and Management in Bt-Transgenic Cotton
The Boll Weevil in Mississippi: Gone, but not Forgotten
Biology and Control of Thrips on Seedling Cotton

Other Information

Pictures of Slugs in Cotton
Cotton Insect Identification - Pictures of Cotton Insects
Cotton Insect Scouting Methods