, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 96–101 | Cite as

Oviposition and pollination behavior of the yucca moth, Tegeticula maculata (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae), and its relation to the reproductive biology of Yucca whipplei (Agavaceae)

  • C. L. Aker
  • D. Udovic


The adult behavior of the yucca moth, Tegeticula maculata Riley, is finely tuned to the reproductive biology of its specific host plant, Yucca whipplei Torr. The female moths oviposit in the ovaries of the yucca flowers and actively pollinate the same flowers with pollen which they have collected previously. The selective pressures imposed on the moths by 1) the plant's need for pollen transfer via an insect pollinating agent, 2) its partial self-incompatibility, and 3) its ability to regulate seed set by aborting excess fruits, have molded the pollinator's behavior in such a way that its offspring have the greatest possible chance of surviving through the early larval stages. The evolutionary responses of the pollinator include the following: 1) the female moths consistently fly to a different plant after collecting pollen, thus insuring cross-fertilization of the flowers, 2) they always pollinate after depositing the first egg in a flower, but not necessarily after subsequent ovipositions, and 3) females emerging near the end of the flowering season frequently oviposit in developing seed pods, as opposed to open flowers which are more likely to be aborted by the plants.


Mold Host Plant Selective Pressure Larval Stage Specific Host 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. L. Aker
    • 1
  • D. Udovic
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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