plants, which have highly modified flowers that reduce the He touted the yucca plant–yucca moth relationship as tion; a quote from a letter of Engelmann to. The moth's larvae depend on the seeds of the yucca plant for food, and upon each other for survival, and both benefit from the relationship. "The yucca is a bright and popular desert flower which seems tough and "AT THIS EXACT MOMENT the pronuba moths break out of their cocoons beneath the sand. (Caps in quotations are ours). * Such a relationship of interdependence and helpfulness could not possibly come about except by outside intervention.
The Yucca and its Moth | The Prairie Ecologist
Males and females emerge from their cocoons in the spring in synchrony with the blossoming of the species of yucca with which they are partners. They meet and mate on the yucca blossoms and then the job of the females starts.
She visits the anthers of the flower and scrapes the pollen from several of them shaping it into a large lump. Then she leaves in search of another inflorescence, not just another flower in the same bunch but in a different plant altogether, assuring in this manner the cross pollination of the yucca. When she arrives at a new plant, she inspects the flowers and chooses the ones that are at the right stage. She can detect the smell of other female moths with her antennae and, if another one has been there already, she searches for another flower.
This is good for the plant and for the future babies because, if too many eggs were laid in one flower ovary, the flower would abort and the larvae would starve.
The Yucca and its Moth
She lays her eggs in the ovary, no more than a handful; once again, if she laid too many eggs, the flower would abort. Afterwards she goes to the stigma of the flower and carefully removes some pollen from under her chin and deposits it on the stigma. Now the flower will produce a fruit and enough seeds to feed the larvae as well as ensure the reproduction of the plant. In a few weeks, the larva is fully-grown. It drops to the ground; it buries itself and makes a cocoon.
It will stay underground until the next spring. However, some pupae remain dormant for more than a year. If the yucca fails to bloom one year because of weather conditions, there will still be yucca moths around. Yuccas are used as ornamentals well beyond their original geographic range. The yucca moths have managed to follow the yucca and have enlarged their range east and north as far as the east coast and Alberta and Ontario in Canada.
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For Additional Information Pellmyr, Olle. Photo courtesy of diychatroom. Yucca moths are two genera of small moths which inhabit the same regions. Yucca moths depend solely on Yucca shrubs for their food.Yucca moths on yucca plant
Each spring, male and female yucca moths emerge from the soil out of their underground cocoons and fly to a nearby Yucca. After mating, female yucca moths find the flowers and collect pollen from the stamens male flower organs. They then fly to another Yucca and deposit the pollen into the stigma female flower organfertilizing the ovules plant eggs which will develop into seeds. Some Yucca can grow to the size of trees like this Yucca elephantipes, aptly named after its large size. Photo courtesy of smgrowers.
After transferring pollen from one shrub to another, a female yucca moth cuts into the ovary of the flower and oviposits lays an egg.
Insects :: Incredible and Inspirational
She may cut open and oviposit eggs multiple times into the flower before she moves on, which can build up scar tissue stressing the plant. Once the moth larvae hatch, they feed on the developing seeds fertilized by their mother.
The larvae consume only a small proportion of the seeds, leaving many seeds intact so the plant can still reproduce. Reciprocal specialization of the yucca moths and the Yucca has led to this relationship becoming obligate in nature; neither species can successfully reproduce without the other. No other insects pollinate Yucca.
No other flowers host yucca moths. Close up of female yucca moths taking pollen from the stamens of the Yucca and making pollen balls to fertilize the ovary of another plant.
Photo courtesy of M. This dependence on one another has led to a highly stable relationship. If the moths were to attempt to take advantage and lay too many eggs in each flower, seed production would decrease, reducing the amount of new Yucca plants.