Tegeticula maculataOlle Pellmyr
Subspecies maculata: Wing expanse 16-23 mm. Forewing white, with 2-12 black spots lining the edge of the apical portion of the wing, sometimes coalescing at the apex, and a prominent discal spot. Hindwings medium gray, lightly scaled.
Subspecies extranea: Wing expanse 14-19 mm. Forewing completely black. Hindwings of the same color, but more thinly scaled.
The two subspecies are very distinctive from each other and from other species. The darker subspecies could conceivably be mistaken for T. synthetica on Y. brevifolia, but its abdomen is not dorsally flattened as in synthetica, and the female does not have a triangualar seventh tergite. Examination of the genitalia provides definitive identification for both sexes.
Feeds exclusively on Yucca (Hesperoyucca) whipplei (Agavaceae). The female oviposits into flowers, or rarely fruits, and the larva feeds on developing seeds. Pupation occurs in a cocoon in the soil. Adults are largely diurnal.
The host occurs in central-southern cismontane California, in Sierra Nevada north to Fresno Co, in northwestern Arizona (USA), and in Baja California Norte (Mexico) to the Vizcaino region (Powell and Mackie 1966). The subspecies T. m. maculata occurs in the northern portion of the host range, coming into contact with the southern subspecies T. m. extranea in the transverse ranges north of Los Angeles.
In coastal chaparral and montane dry shrubby grassland with Yucca whipplei (Agavaceae).
Tegeticula maculata has been extensively studied by lepidopterists and ecologists; Powell and Mackie (1966) provided detailed biological information, Aker (1982) and Aker and Udovic (1982) studied oviposition behavior, and Richter and Weis (1995) studied the role of selective fruit abortion in maintaining the moth-host mutualism.
Tegeticula m. maculata and T.t.extranea were originally described as separate species. Davis (1967) gave them subspecies rank, with the caveat that further study may support status as separate sister species. Pellmyr et al. (1996) found substantial sequence divergence between the two taxa, lending support for such a reconsideration.
Aker, C.L. 1982. Spatial and temporal dispersion patterns of pollinators and their relationship to the flowering strategy of Yucca whipplei (Agavaceae). Oecologia 54:243-252.
Aker, C.L. and D. Udovic. 1981. Oviposition and pollination behavior of the yucca moth, Tegeticula maculata (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae), and its relation to the reproductive biology of Yucca whipplei (Agavaceae). Oecologia 49:96-101.
Davis, D.R. 1967. A revision of the moths of the subfamily Prodoxinae (Lepidoptera: Incurvariidae). U.S. Nat. Hist. Mus., Bull. 255:1-170.
Pellmyr, O., J. Leebens-Mack & C.J. Huth. 1996a. Non-mutualistic yucca moths and their evolutionary consequences. Nature 380:155-156.
Powell, J.A. and R.A. Mackie. 1966. Biological interrelationships of moths and Yucca whipplei. Univ. Calif. Publ. Entomol. 42:1-59.
Richter, K.S. and A.E. Weis. 1995. Differential abortion in the yucca. Nature 376:557-558.
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Pellmyr, Olle. 1996. Tegeticula maculata http://tolweb.org/Tegeticula_maculata/12450/1996.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 01 January 1996 (under construction).