Mutualism of the Month: Yucca and their moths — Feed the data monster
This yucca moth is inside the flower of a yucca, Yucca glauca. started as a relationship of exploitation with the moth feeding on the yucca. However, the female gathers pollen, which it holds under its chin with the help of the tentacles. Like fig wasps and acacia ants, the relationship is mutually beneficial to both partners, and is vital for the survival of both plant and insect. In fact, yuccas. share a mutually beneficial relationship, each dependent on the other for survival . The female yucca moth is the sole pollinator of the yucca, and the yucca is the.
They meet and mate on the yucca blossoms and then the job of the females starts.
The Yucca and its Moth
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. 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.
Moth to Yucca to People
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. For Additional Information Pellmyr, Olle. The yucca moth family. One of the females is collecting pollen to transport to another shrub.
Photo courtesy of Alan Cressler. Every month we showcase a relationship between two or more species or groups of species that can be considered a mutualism: The mutualism between two genera of yucca moths and Yucca shrubs is considered to be one of the most apparent cases of coevolution between plants and insects.
Symbiosis of Yucca Moths & Yucca Plant Trees | Home Guides | SF Gate
Yucca are a genus of perennial shrubs within the same family as asparagus and agave. Yucca are notable for their rosettes of tough, sword-shaped leaves and branched clusters of pale white flowers. Yucca are native to arid hot and dry parts of North and South America. Yucca are frequently planted all over the world, but won't produce seeds without yucca moths.
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. 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.
Symbiosis of Yucca Moths & Yucca Plant Trees
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. 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.