What kind of relationship do a yucca moth and yucca plant have? | Yahoo Answers
Yucca is used for decorative planting and extracts from the yucca plant have the name of a moth which has an exclusive symbiotic relationship with the plant. Although some plant species rely on wind or water to transfer pollen from one flower Sometimes a symbiotic relationship benefits both species, sometimes one . An extraordinary partnership exists between the Yucca moth. 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.
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.
The Yucca and its Moth
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.
Hesperoyucca whipplei - Wikipedia
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. For Additional Information Pellmyr, Olle.
Once the eggs are laid, she scrapes a small amount of pollen from her sticky ball with her tentacles, walks to the stigma of the flower, and packs the pollen into tiny depressions within the style.
She may then return to the ovary of the same flower to lay more eggs or fly to another flower. Either way, before she leaves the flower, she marks it with a pheromone a chemical other moths can sense.
This helps moderate the number of larva that hatch within each flower, and prevents the plant from aborting the flower altogether, which it will do if too many eggs are laid. Flowers of soapweed yucca.
The Yucca and its Moth | The Prairie Ecologist
When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on yucca seeds within the fruit. Typically, there are more seeds than the larvae in a particular flower can eat since the plant aborts flowers that are too heavily laden with eggs. When the larvae finish eating, they burrow out of the fruit — usually during rain events, interestingly — and burrow down into the ground to make their cocoon and wait until the next spring when the whole process plays out again.
So each species depends upon each other for survival, and both benefit from the relationship. If you want to read about some additional interelationships with yucca, the moth, and other insects, you might be interested in this article by Laura Hebert.