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The Boll Weevil Plague Essay

1318 words - 5 pages

On an endless road of meadows and half collapsed barns exists a quaint town living its motto “The City of Progress”. Enterprise, Alabama is stuck between miles of bleak pastures and feeding cows, but the peanut factory overwhelms your every breath. The monotonous drive does have a reward, and it can only be found hiding in a valley of small stores and baptist churches on downtown’s main street. It is a statue that reminisces this town’s story of triumph over its struggling economy during the decline of cotton. Sculpted from stone, a woman is presenting a boll weevil in honor for its efforts in destroying the crop, cotton, Enterprise, Alabama’s main economic source.
The boll weevil. It is a common name given to an insect that infests cotton plants. Fully grown, they tend to be “reddish-brown, gray, or almost black in color and are normally less than 0.24 inches long” ("What is a Boll Weevil?"). Its snout originates from its face with two fork like spurs that extend it further out. boll weevils hibernate in grass during the fall and will not reappear until the spring ("What is a Boll Weevil?"). This small beetle looking bug was responsible for shattering southern economies such as Enterprise, Alabama.
The boll weevil’s primary food source are cotton plants, a crop that covered the southern plantations at the time. In the spring, when they emerge from hibernation, they puncture the cotton buds and lay their eggs inside ("What is a Boll Weevil?"). After about four days, the larvae are born. This is where most of the damage occurs. The larvae eat and destroy the cotton fibers("What is a Boll Weevil?"). The plant is plagued by these insects; they eat them until the cotton plant’s eventual death. The boll weevil season allows for many generations because their life span is only about three weeks. Thus, this cycle is repeated causing mass devastation.
The boll weevil can trace its ancestry back to Mexico. In the early 1890s, the Mexican boll weevil crossed the Mexican-United States border into Texas ("What is a Boll Weevil?"). Since it cannot handle cooler temperature, it continued its way south destroying the southern cotton industry. Then, it had finally made it to Alabama. The boll weevil plague shattered the cotton industry in Enterprise, but there was still hope. Farmers that faced the devastation began growing peanuts.
“The boll weevil forced farmers to switch to growing different crops, such as peanuts, which not only returned vital nutrients to soils depleted by cotton cultivation, but also was a successful cash crop for these farmers,” ("The Boll Weevil Honored in Alabama"). Some farmers were stubborn and decided not to switch to peanuts. Many lost their farms because they continuously refused to change their crop. Enterprise, Alabama happened to be one of these cities affected. Fortunately, this city thrived during the plague. Farmers quickly switched to the peanut once its success was proven. This allowed the Enterprise economy to...

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