When The Boll Weevil Festival comes to mind for most people they think of lots of tents with lots of food and entertainment in states like Alabama. People would come from miles away to attend this weekend long gala affair. Children would play all sorts of games and win big prizes. It was the deep-south’s way of celebrating getting rid of a pest they had been victimized with for decades. People came together and had barrels of fun in the sun each August through October. However this is not the Boll Weevil Festival our story is about.
Our story is about a long list of weevils like the Bark Beetle, The Blister Beetle, Spanishfly, Bombardier Beetle, Carpet Beetle, Caterpillar Hunter, Click Beetle, Firefly, Ground Beetle, Grub, Japanese Beetle, June Bug, Ladybird Beetle, Leaf beetle, Blister Beetle, Longhorned beetle, Scarab beetle, Tiger beetle, Water beetle, the Stag beetle and the most notorious Weevil of all times the Boll Weevil. All of these are different kinds of beetles but beetles none-the-less. Beetles are one of the most destructive insects in the world and have caused millions of people to lose their crops because of these little monster insects. They devour roots, grass, leaves, flowers, and plant life everywhere. None country is safe from these pesky insects.
What is a beetle you might be asking about now? Well they are insects that cover most of the earth. There are more than 800,000 species of insects in the world and nearly half are beetles. They come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Some are red “ladybugs”, some are metallic green fig beetles and some actually glow in the dark. Some are as small as a dime, while others are over six inches long. Some beetles have horns resembling a miniature rhinoceros. In some countries people collect them and actually string them together to make necklaces. I’m sure you would not be interested in having a dozen or more stinky bugs hanging around your neck would you? Children catch June bugs and tie a string around one leg everywhere. They turn it loose and let it fly around hooked to the string. If you haven’t seen some type of beetle then you are really missing a great adventure.
Now this is where my story of the Boll Weevil Festival begins. It is not a festival of people but a festival of beetles that gather together all around the world to celebrate their victories over mankind. Beetles normally begin as larvae or grub worm looking sorts of insect. Then they mature into adults and begin their feeding frenzy.
This year Wally, Wilma, Warren, Wilbert, Winfred, and Wynona were in charge of notifying beetles in every part of the globe. It would take months to get the word out because it would be spread by word of mouth. Since there are so many of these insects they figured it would take about six months for every insect to be notified so they began in January. They sent the message out first by the fliers, then by the borers, then the drillers, and lastly the chewers. There were to all meet in big places like Alabama, California and New York in the United States. They would be in France, Germany, London, Russia, Japan, Australia and everyplace in between. Their hope was to make the headlines of every newspaper, every television channel, and by internet to every country on the earth.
They were sending out a message and their message was: “We are vast in number, we are invincible, and we are here to destroy your crops, your orchards, your personal lives.” Chubby the grub worm was in charge of sending the message to the center for disease control and to all scientists everywhere. They wanted to see just how intelligent man was today. They wanted to see if the scientist could actually come up with something that was lethal to them yet not dangerous to mankind. It was a challenge of all challenges. They were well aware that they had become resistant to almost every chemical man had invented. Would they eventually become the SUPER BUGS of the PLANET? Would there be anything green left after they had paid their visits?
“Focus on the plantations, the vineyards, the gardens and the crops everywhere. Send the wisest of our kind to test our skills with the wisest of mans kind.” Warren shouted. “Get the message out and get it out now! It will be like the Boll Weevils and the cotton crops. Heck they nearly destroyed them all years ago!”
Wilma and Wynona’s job was the scientist and the universities. They would visit all the most prominent places and speak to the most famous scientist. Heads of governments would be left for Wally and Winfred. Could they pull it off? Would the nations of the world be so concerned with greedy wars and civil unrest that they might ignore the enemy within? They were confident they would win.
“Well they have had Aristotle, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Charles Robert Darwin, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur and they have done well in days gone by. However now, people do not care about the contaminating the soil, causing diseases and such so we might have a chance now to destroy these people and all the earth with it. I don’t see any new scientist in the papers. I think most are working in universities and just for the MONEY. Now we have our big chance. We will see if Rachael Carson or Thomas Dunlop can come up with a real killer that DOESN’T KILL THE PEOPLE!” Wynona said with a smirk on her face.
“Yeah we will have celebrations all over the world on the same day. Destruction will be our main agenda. Let them enjoy their festivals and eat ice cream. We will hit them from all sides and they won’t have a clue as to what is happening until it is too late!” Wilma laughed wickedly.
Months went by quickly and word spread like wild fire. Suddenly reports began to flood the insect’s main offices. New pesticides were now being developed, including biological and botanical derivatives and alternatives that are thought to reduce health and environmental risks. In addition, people are being encouraged to consider alternative controls and adopt methods that reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Even natural herbs are being used so pests do not become resistant.
“Dang it! I thought we were going to be able to destroy this entire world. It looks like the sleeping giant scientists have been awakened.” Detroit the monster beetle roared loudly. “The Environmental Protection Agency has finally begun to do something that works against us and for the people and that just sucks for us.”
“I know it. Did you know that two more natural pesticides, pyrethrum, which is derived from chrysanthemums, and rotenone, which is derived from the roots of tropical vegetables are now being used widely? It sounds like they might have us on the run again.” Alfonso screamed loudly.
“It’s the natural stuff that we can’t stand. Now that they know this we are doomed.” Penelope cried as she wrung her sharp claws together. “So much for our festival I guess.” She moaned.
So it came to be that all the beetles and the famous Boll Weevil decided to halt their festival. They were afraid they would be sprayed from the air, by sea and by person. They did not want all the beetles to be destroyed at one time.
“We will hide and when they think we’ve gone away we will rush them again!” Oliver the Blister Beetle yelled.
Now if you think that the beetles have all vanished please have your parents to check their plants and trees where you live. If there are any signs just inform them of the beetle’s plans. We all must work to save the earth and it starts with YOU!
Question: What crop did the famous Boll Weevil nearly wipe out?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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