Insect Pests of Cotton

  • T. P. Rajendran
  • Ajanta Birah
  • Prasad S. Burange


Cotton, the king of natural fibres since antiquities, has been entwined in human civilization. It is the most popularly used fibre for clothing and for a host of other purposes since ancient era in India. Cotton is a commercial crop that has deep significance in the economy of the farmers, textile industry and the country where it is grown. Indian farmers cultivate cotton fibre from all the four Gossypium sp. Cotton crop is prone to damage by a number of pests. There are over 166 insects recorded as pests on cotton crop. They are categorized as sucking insects, fruiting body feeders and foliar and stem feeders A spectrum of these insects in different phenological stages and geographical areas denote their adaptability to the habitat of such agroclimatic conditions. In India, cotton crop is damaged right from seedling stage by a number of pests, such as grasshoppers, thrips, aphids and jassids. Sap-sucking pests debilitate the early growth of the crop. Towards the bud-break stage of the cotton crop, the fruiting body (buds, flowers, bolls) feeders such as bollworms appear in the crop. Spiny bollworms, Spotted bollworms, American bollworms and Pink bollworms are the prominent amongst them. The incidence of Spodoptera is observed to occur in large numbers on fruiting parts during certain seasons.

The management of these pests is strategized through integrated pest management. The increase in sap sucking pests in recent times in genetically modified cotton hybrids is found to be due to poor adoption integrated pest management. These hybrids have poor genetic tolerance to these pests unlike the open pollinated cotton varieties that were bred with substantial tolerance to sap-sucking pests.The GM cotton crop becoming vulnerable to high incidence of pests is a major concern to farmers. In recent times, pests such as Pink bollworms tend to tolerate delta endotoxin expressed in GM cotton are future concerns for farmers. Cotton-based cropping system with pulses, and oilseed crops shall provide better ecosystem for integrated pest management. Judicious application of fertiliser, irrigation and use of ecologically sound pesticides (including biological pesticides – botanical origin, microbial and biocontrol agents). Non-chemical cotton (organic) production system including for pest management do flourish in rainfed cotton states to make sure that the cost of cultivation is minimized along with sustained ecological footprint to make cotton farming less invasive into natural niches.



We recognize the support provided by various colleague entomologists and professionals and research institutions in sharing information, data and knowledge to make this chapter wholesome.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. P. Rajendran
    • 1
  • Ajanta Birah
    • 2
  • Prasad S. Burange
    • 3
  1. 1.Research Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)New DelhiIndia
  2. 2.ICAR-National Research Centre for Integrated Pest ManagementNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyPunjab Agricultural UniversityLudhianaIndia

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