Abstract 1 A 2-year field study was conducted to generate data on seasonal abundance patterns of cotton aphids Aphis gossypii Glover and to develop a mechanistic model based on cumulative population size. The treatments consisted of three irrigation levels (Low, Medium and High) with 65%, 75% and 85% evapotranspiration replacement and three nitrogen fertility treatments (blanket-rate-N, variable-rate-N and no nitrogen). 2 A nonlinear regression equation, the analytical solution of a cumulative size mechanistic model, was fitted to each of the 27 individual data sets collected in 2003 and in 2004. The size and time of the peak, the cumulative aphid density, and the birth and death rates were estimated for each population, and each of these five variables was analyzed as a response variable in the analysis of variance. 3 For 2003 (a dry year), the Water (irrigation) main effect was found to be significant for the time of peak, the death rate and the cumulative density. The lower aphid death rate at low water levels might be due to the water stress in plants. 4 For 2004 (a year with moderate precipitation), the Nitrogen main effect was significant for both the birth and death rates. As nitrogen applications were increased, the decrease in both the aphid birth and death rates translates into a decrease in crowding and an increase in aphid survival. 5 The fact that treatment effects may be manifested through birth and death rate parameters in the new mechanistic model opens up new avenues for analyzing population size data of this kind.