In 2012, Cotton Belt entomologists reported the lowest percent loss to insects since annual surveys of Cotton Belt entomologists began 33 years ago, according to entomologist Mike Williams, who compiles the annual survey, Cotton Insect Losses.

Across the Cotton Belt, insects caused an average 2.06 percent loss per acre. Williams said entomologists estimated management costs of insects at around $51.39 per acre. Cost plus loss was $71.18.

Louisiana reported the highest loss to insect pests in 2012, at 8.95 percent, while New Mexico reported the lowest, at 0.001 percent.

The lowest average cost of insect management occurred in 2009, when growers spent an average of $43.79 per acre, while 2000 was the highest cost ever reported, at $117.32.

The highest loss to insects ever came in 1995, when Heliothines (primarily tobacco budworms) caused 11.08 percent damage to the crop. The following year, Bt cotton was introduced, and a few years later, boll weevil eradication came into play.

The year 2001 was somewhat momentous, noted Williams. “It marked the time when we began the trend to low, loss percentages. Bt cotton and eradication really dropped those percentages down to where they are reflected today.”

The survey for insect losses began in 1979. Cost of management was first reported in 1986.

Lygus, or plant bug, was the No. 1 pest of cotton in 2012, according to the survey, with losses of 0.695 percent. The pest infested about 45.5 percent of U.S. acres in 2012.

 The Mid-South growing region has historically been a hot spot for plant bugs. Louisiana reported a 3 percent loss to the pest in 2012, Mississippi, 4.7 percent, Arkansas, 4 percent, Missouri, 4 percent and Tennessee, 3.3 percent. Lygus lineolaris is the primary pest of the Mid-South and lygus hesperus is a formidable pest in Arizona and California.

The No. 2 insect, stink bug, caused a 0.375 percent loss and infested about 39.1 percent of U.S. acres. The Southeast was a hot spot for stink bug infestations, along with Arizona, which reported a 3 percent loss to the pest.