Tegeticula syntheticaOlle Pellmyr
Wing expanse 17-21 mm. Forewings black, with occasional lighter scales scattered on the wing, and occasional clustering to form a diffuse discal spot. Hindwings of the same color, but very lightly scaled so that wings can be hyaline.
The species is very distinctive, but could conceivably be mistaken for the larger T. maculata extranea on Yucca whipplei. The abdomen is dorsally flattened in synthetica, and the female has a triangular seventh tergite. Examination of the genitalia provide definitive identification for both sexes.
Feeds exclusively on Yucca brevifolia, the Joshua Tree (Agavaceae). The female oviposits into flowers, and the larva feeds on developing seeds. Pupation occurs in a cocoon in the soil.
Congruent with the range of its host. In the northern two thirds of the Mojave desert, in southern Nevada, southeastern California, and extreme southwestern Utah to northwestern Arizona.
In desert with Yucca brevifolia.
Davis, D.R. 1967. A revision of the moths of the subfamily Prodoxinae (Lepidoptera: Incurvariidae). U.S. Nat. Hist. Mus., Bull. 255:1-170.
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Pellmyr, Olle. 1996. Tegeticula synthetica http://tolweb.org/Tegeticula_synthetica/12452/1996.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 01 January 1996 (under construction).