Tegeticula yuccasellaOlle Pellmyr
Wing expanse 18-27.5 mm. Forewing wide and blunt, usually white but occasionally with more or less tan coloration in northeastern part of range. Hindwing medium to light brownish grey, darkest by apex, gradually turning white toward hind corner. Moth generally lighter in southern populations. Female with fully developed maxillary tentacles. Male genitalia with aedeagus 1.4-1.9 mm long, 0.0357-0.040 mm in cross section; female genitalia with posterior apophyses 5.0-6.9 mm long, corpus bursae with signa 0.95-1.20 mm in diameter.
Similar to many species in the yuccasella complex, especially the largely sympatric intermedia and cassandra, but intermedia females lack functional maxillary tentacles, and yuccasella has a lower dorsal keel on the ovipositor than either species. Genitalic characters are helpful in obtaining a definitive identification. A diagnostic key is provided.
The species is known from the capsular-fruited yuccas Yucca filamentosa (Y. smalliana, Y. flaccida), Y. glauca (Y. arkansana), Y. constricta, Y. rupicola. Y. pallida, Y. reverchoni, and Y. aloifolia (Pellmyr 1999). Females oviposit into young fruit. Eggs are laid inside the ovary, between the locule wall and the ovules. The larva feeds on developing seeds. Pupation occurs in a cocoon in the soil.
Throughout the Great Plains from its southern boundary in Texas to southernmost Canada, and in all regions east of the plains northward at least to central Michigan, southern Ontario, and Connecticut. The range has expanded in the northeast through colonization of Y. filamentosa after it became widely cultivated by European settlers in the past 150 years.
Natural habitats include sand dunes, pine forest and glades in the east, and grassland elsewhere. Altitudinal range 0 - 1920 m.
Pellmyr, O. 1999. Systematic revision of the Tegeticula yuccasella complex (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae) north of Mexico. Systematic Entomology 24:243-271.
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Pellmyr, Olle. 1996. Tegeticula yuccasella http://tolweb.org/Tegeticula_yuccasella/12475/1996.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 01 January 1996 (under construction).