A Critter with an Appetite for…….Cotton?

I was beyond excited last week when the first of the cotton bolls I’d been growing in my Illinois garden popped open to reveal their inner white fluffiness. Today, it seems that I’m not the only animal that’s enjoying the splendor of the cotton harvest.

Right next to an open, full boll was a boll stripped bare of cotton.

Further down was a boll whose cotton looked like it had been tugged downward in an attempt to extract it.

I suspect I have a cotton thief in the garden, either a bird or squirrel that’s harvesting the insulating bounty for its winter nest. I have yet to catch the thief in the act, but I can’t imagine any other reason the cotton would be stripped and disheveled in this way.

I had planned to wait until all the bolls had opened before I harvested, but I hadn’t counted on extra hands (or beaks) helping themselves to my cotton. It makes me wonder — do cotton farmers have to deal with critters that steal their cotton too?

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