Alabama Erects A Monument To The Boll Weevil
In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.”— Inscription at Base of Monument
On December 11, 1919, the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to the boll weevil, the pest that devastated their fields but forced residents to end their dependence on cotton and to pursue mixed farming and manufacturing. A beetle measuring an average length of six millimeters, the insect entered the United States via Mexico in the 1890s and reached southeastern Alabama in 1915. It remains the most destructive cotton pest in North America.
The infestation led to the introduction of the peanut—an alternative crop popularized by the Tuskegee Institute's George Washington Carver. Peanut cultivation not only returned vital nutrients to soils depleted by cotton cultivation, but also proved a successful cash crop for local farmers.
De cotton come up and started to growin', and, suh, befo' de middle of May I looks down one day and sees de boll weevil settin' up dere in de top of dem little cotton stalks waitin' for de squares to fo'm. So all dat gewano us hauled and put down in 1922 made nuttin' but a crop of boll weevils.”— "Always Agin It," Place Chapin, South Carolina
The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) is a beetle measuring an average length of six millimeters, which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the US from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all US cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south. During the late 20th century it became a serious pest in South America as well. Since 1978, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the US has allowed full-scale cultivation to resume in many regions.
The Boll Weevil Monument in downtown Enterprise, Alabama, United States is a prominent landmark and tribute erected by the citizens of Enterprise in 1919 to show their appreciation to an insect, the boll weevil, for its profound influence on the area's agriculture and economy. Hailing the beetle as a "herald of prosperity", it stands as the world's only monument built to honor an agricultural pest.
The monument depicts a female figure in a flowing gown with arms stretched above her head. She raises high a trophy which is topped with a larger than life-size boll weevil. The statue stands atop an ornately detailed base which supports two round streetlamps. The base stands in the center of a fountain, which is surrounded by a wrought-iron railing. The monument stands more than thirteen feet tall.
At the base of the monument appears the following inscription:
"In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.