Dateline Alabama September 3, 1910:
According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Boll weevils were discovered for the first time in Alabama on this day. Entering the state via Mobile County, Alabama, the pesky plague of the cotton belt soon spread across the entire state decimating crops and the state’s primarily cotton-based economy.
For the next eighty years, farmers, scientists, the Cooperative Extension Service and the USDA waged an all-out war against the miniscule muncher, finally eradicating the pest and arresting its negative economic impact on Alabama’s cotton crops in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yet, even with all of the trouble caused by the wicked weevil, some good also came from his appearance on Alabama soil–the Land of Cotton was forced to adapt, and with adaptation came crop diversification.
While Cotton may no longer be “King” in Bama, having to share the spotlight with other row crops such as peanuts, corn, and soybeans, and, truth be told, may never ever be so again, it is still an important crop of the Alabama landscape, despite the devastation wreaked by a century of insect infestation.
For more information about the boll weevil, please refer to Ron Smith’s 2008 article in Encyclopedia of Alabama entitled, Boll Weevil in Alabama.