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Manitoba Museum

Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera)

Yucca Moths


All Yucca Moth species in Canada are rare and found only in Alberta. Some Yucca Moths and Yucca plants cannot live without each other and appear to have co-evolved. The moths lay their eggs in the plant’s ovaries, then gather and transfer pollen between flowers. This ensures that enough seeds are produced for the larvae to eat, and for the plants to reproduce. Yucca Moths do not feed on their host plant’s nectar or pollen.

Representative Genera and Species:

Prodoxus quinquepunctellus, Tegeticula corruptrix, T. yuccasella

Pollinator Life Cycle:

Females lay their eggs directly inside plant tissue (ovaries, fruits, flower stalks) which the hatched larvae feed on. Larvae develop and over-winter inside the plant or in the soil. Adults emerge in the following flowering season. They rest in Yucca flowers during the day, and spend their time on its flower stalks in the evening (these are used as mating sites).

Rarity Status:

The Yucca Moth, Five-Spotted Bogus Yucca Moth, and Non-Pollinating Yucca Moth are protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Physical Appearance:

Wings range from 5 to 33 mm across, are usually white or grey, and sometimes have dark markings. Their head has rough hair-like scales, simple antennae, and a short proboscis. These moths use their strong ovipositors to pierce plants when laying eggs. Females of the genus Tegeticula have facial appendages called “tentacles” that are used to gather and transfer pollen on Yucca flowers.

Pollinator Habitat:

Yucca Moths tend to live where their host plants are found: often on well-drained, sparsely vegetated, mostly south-facing slopes in regions with low precipitation.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta

Prairie Types:

  • Mixed Grass Prairie
Yucca Moths