Pink Bollworm Program
Historical Information

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Pink Bollworm Eradication

Over the past 30 years PBW has been the most serious cotton pest in Arizona, California and Northwestern Mexico. In Arizona and Southern California alone more than 72 million acre equivalents of harsh pesticides have been applied at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion dollars. Since its introduction into Arizona in 1996, Bt cotton has dramatically reduced pink bollworm populations. Technology fees, however, have cost Arizona growers more than 38 million, with the potential for future costs to exceed $4 million per year if utilized extensively throughout the region. Chemical control costs, should Bt develop resistance would be even higher. Eradication is possible now primarily due to Bt cotton, the most powerful control tool ever known coupled with the additional complimentary control of sterile pink bollworm moths, pheromones, and extremely limited use of chemical pesticides.

Sterile Insect Technique

There are many steps involved with the Sterile Insect Technology SIT program. Dr. Robert Staten retired as the Director of the USDA APHIS program in Phoenix in January of 2006. He spent several years of his extensive career developing and refining this process. It is an international program, and the Pink Bollworm Rearing Facility has shipped billions of moths during the course of it's existence to Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, California and Mexico.

The Arizona Pink Bollworm Eradication was broken down into three areas. By statute, Arizona works on a four-year timeline. The first area [central and eastern counties] started in 2006. Arizona was the only location to fly seven days a week. By the end of 2006, over 1.7 billion sterile pink bollworm moths had been released over Arizona cotton fields. In 2007, the River Counties [LaPaz and Mohave] came into the program. In 2008, Yuma County was included as well. Central and Eastern Arizona have completed their final year in 2009, and LaPaz and Mohave in 2010 respectively.