Well, I saw the bo weavil, Lord, a-circle in the air
Next time I seed him, Lord, he had his family there
Bo weavil told the farmer that "I 'tain't got ticket fare"
Sucks all the blossom and leave your hedges square
Bo weavil, bo weavil, where your native home?
"Most anywhere they raise cotton and corn"
Bo weavil, bo weavil, "Oughtta treat me fair"
The next time I did you had your family there.
-- Charley Patton, "Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues"
A humble beetle, the boll weevil has done so much to shape Southern culture. After crossing the Rio Grande into Texas in the 1890s, the voracious pest went on to devastate the South's cotton economy -- and helped bring about the region's economic diversification. It went on to star in numerous songs by blues, folk and rock artists, and even lent its name to sports teams such as the Piedmont Boll Weevils, a minor league baseball outfit from the textile mill town of Kannapolis, N.C. (renamed the Kannapolis Intimidators after NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt bought into the team).
Now more than 100 years after its arrival in the South, the boll weevil has been almost completely eradicated -- gone from "virtually every farm east of the Mississippi River and 94 percent of the entire country," according to a fascinating story in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"Definitely, the boll weevil was a bad boy," said Kevin Hendrix, a fourth-generation farmer harvesting cotton outside this east Georgia town. "We're sure glad he's gone."