Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth
Scientific Name: Prodoxus quinquepunctellus
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2013
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Image of Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth
The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is a small moth with a wingspan of 11 to 21 mm. The body of the moth is entirely covered in white scales. Usually, the upper surfaces of the forewings are white, with 18 small dark spots. The hindwings, which range from white to grey, usually appear darker than the forewings. The undersides of the forewings are a medium brown, while the undersides of the hindwings are a brownish-grey colour. The fringes of both sets of wings are entirely white. The adults rest inside soapweed flowers during the day and move onto the flowering stalks in the evening. All of the immature stages of the moth occur within the flowering stalk of the host plant, soapweed. The eggs are soft and white and approximately 0.4 mm in diameter. The caterpillars are whitish in the early stages and turn pale green as they grow. They are 5 to 7 mm long when mature. The caterpillars then pupate. The pupa has a prominent frontal “beak,” a structure that most likely aids the pupa in creating an exit hole in the stalk. This moth can be distinguished from the yucca moth by the dark spots on its forewings.
Distribution and Population
The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is a geographically widespread species in North America. Its range extends from southern Alberta to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in the south and from the Great Plains to the Atlantic coast of the United States in the east. In Canada, the species is known from only one population established near Onefour, in the valley of the Lost River, a tributary of the Milk River, in the southeastern corner of Alberta. The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is restricted to populations of its host plant. There are two naturally occurring populations of soapweed in Alberta. The first is scattered along the slopes of the Lost River and the second is located on the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve, in the Milk River drainage basin, but it does not appear to support a population of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. The only Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth population in Canada was estimated, in 2002, at 500 to several thousand individuals. However, without long-term data, it is impossible to determine the trends of this population, which appears to be relatively secure from any immediate threat.
The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is entirely dependent on its host plant. The moth lays its eggs on this drought-resistant perennial, which also serves as food and shelter for the caterpillars. In Alberta, soapweed is restricted to the Milk River drainage basin, an arid region characterized by hot summers and low precipitation. The species grows mainly in shallow limestone soil on well-drained eroding, exposed, south-facing slopes.
Relatively little is known about the biology of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. Adult moths rest in soapweed flowers during the day and use them as mating sites in the evening. After copulation, females lay their eggs directly into the flowering stalks. Nine days later, the young caterpillars hatch and begin to feed on the stem tissue. The caterpillars complete their development protected within the plant stem and remain in the stalk over one or several winters. The adults emerge in a subsequent flowering season. The most important factor affecting the survival of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is the production of soapweed fruit, which in turn depends on the yucca moth. By pollinating the flowers of soapweed, the yucca moth enables soapweed to produce fruit. The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is therefore completely dependent on the yucca moth. In the absence of fruit, the flowering stalk of soapweed quickly withers, and the caterpillars in those stalks suffer almost complete mortality.
The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is limited by the number of soapweed flowering stalks and the production of fruit. Thus, factors that threaten either the host plant or its pollinator, the yucca moth, will also have a detrimental effect on the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. Onefour represents an isolated northern outlier for populations of soapweed, along with the associated yucca moth and the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. There is evidence to suggest that the small, declining peripheral populations of soapweed may not contain enough plants to sustain a viable population of yucca moths. Soapweed populations with few yucca moths would produce fewer fruit, and this would likely lead to the decline of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. Consumption of flowers by pronghorn antelope and mule deer can seriously compromise the reproductive success of soapweed and the moths that depend on it. Pronghorns eat only the soapweed flowers, whereas mule deer usually eat the entire flowering stalk, destroying all the caterpillars inside the stalk. During times of drought, mule deer also eat developing fruit. Other possible threats include destruction of the host plant by off-road traffic and the collection of soapweed for horticultural and medicinal uses.
Federal ProtectionThe Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
In Alberta, the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is not protected under any provincial statute.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
11 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Yucca Moth Tegeticula yuccasella, Non-pollinating Yucca Moth Tegeticula corruptrix and the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth Prodoxus quinquepunctellus in Canada (2013)Yucca Moths are small white moths with an 18-27.5 mm wingspan. They have specialized maxillary tentacles used to handle the pollen of Yucca spp., with which they engage in an obligate pollination-seed predation mutualism.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006)2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Recovery Document Posting Plans
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