Prodoxidae - Wikipedia
The yucca (Yucca spp.) and the yucca moth (Tegeticula spp.) share a mutually beneficial relationship, each dependent on the other for survival. The female. The Prodoxidae are a family of moths, generally small in size and nondescript in appearance. They are famous for an old and intimate relationship with Yucca plants and are their obligate This obligate pollination mutualism is similar to the mutualistic relationship between the senita cactus and the senita moth. Species. Like fig wasps and acacia ants, the relationship is mutually beneficial to both In fact, yuccas cultivated in the Old World, where yucca moths are absent, will not . bean (Sebastiana pavoniana) and its symbiotic moth (Laspeyresia saltitans) is.
Of the 80 or so species found worldwide, about 30 are native to North America. These moths are typically found wherever yucca plants grow, generally throughout the hot, desert regions of the southwestern United States and Central and South America. Members of the Asparagaceae family, the yucca genus contains at least 30 species of trees and shrubs.
Symbiosis of Yucca Moths & Yucca Plant Trees
Yuccas are characterized by their tough, sword-like leaves and large clusters of fragrant, white flowers. These plants generally grow in U.
Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10, although hardiness varies by species. Yucca Moth Description Yucca moths are typically silvery-white and small — usually less than an inch long.
They are famous for an old and intimate relationship with Yucca plants and are their obligate pollinators as well as herbivores Pellmyr et al.
Interactions of these organisms range from obligate mutualism to commensalism to outright antagonism. Their bore holes are a common sight on trunks of such plants as the soaptree yucca.
Pollinators: The Yucca Moth and the Yucca
Two of the three yucca moth genera in particular, Tegeticula and Parategeticulahave an obligate pollination mutualism with yuccas. Yuccas are only pollinated by these moths, and the pollinator larvae feed exclusively on yucca seeds ; the female moths use their modified mouthparts to insert the pollen into the stigma of the flowers, after having oviposited in the ovary, where the larvae feed on some but not all of the developing ovules.
This obligate pollination mutualism is similar to the mutualistic relationship between the senita cactus and the senita moth.
Their eggs are deposited in fruits and leaves, where they eat and grow, not emerging until fully mature. One species of yucca moth, Tegeticula intermediabetrays this obligate mutualism by not pollinating the yucca while still laying its eggs on the host plant, cheating the yucca out of any benefits from this relationship. In an effort to further investigate the traits that have evolved as a result of coevolution O. Pellmyr and his team utilized a phylogenetic framework to observe the evolution of active pollination and specializing effects of the yucca moths which eventually lead to the loss of nectar in the genus of yucca plants, requiring them to have Prodoxidae moths around to reproduce.
This is called an obligate mutualism in which if one were to disappear, the other would follow the same path.
Originally it was a relationship of exploitation, with the moth larvae feeding on the seeds of the yucca.
But, eventually the plant devised methods to take advantage of the situation and as a consequence, the moth also evolved to ensure food for its babies and preservation of its food plant. Yucca flowers open for a few days, attracting a variety of insects during day hours; but they produce more nectar and send their strong and sweet aroma at night. Flowers with these characteristics are usually pollinated by moths or other nocturnal pollinators.
The yucca adds a special embellishment to this arrangement; of all the insects that visit its flowers, the only ones that can accomplish pollination are the yucca moths Tegeticula yuccasella and Parategeticula depending on the species of plant.
Yucca moths are small, white, not very noticeable. They spend a good part of their adult life inside the flowers of the yucca, meeting members of the opposite sex and mating.