Initially it was frustrating to read about Tageticula yuccasella as the moth that pollinated all of our native yucca species, when I knew from personal observation that yucca moths seemed particular to a yucca species. For example, I work on a farm/nursery where we field grow thousands of Yucca rostrata, a yucca native to west Texas and Chihuahua. It is a beautiful sight when those thousands of yuccas flower in the fields, and though they are grown in the land of our native Yucca elata, we never get any seed from them…wrong pollinator. Well, after some more reading on my part (research!) I see that the yucca moth Tageticula has had 10 new species added north of Mexico. We’ll need to tell the borderlands yucca moths about this, but hey, for the moth that pollinates our soaptree yucca, Yucca elata, we have Tageticula elatella. For our mountain yucca (Yucca maderensis) we have Tageticula maderae and for the Yucca rostrata the pollinator moth is Tageticula rostratella. How cool is that? Very cool and it shows you that a species of moth is particular to a species of yucca and that this show should be more accurately called Tageticula elatella. Cool!
This is all probably more than you wanted to know, but what the yucca moths tell us is that there are, no doubt, hundreds of thousands of pollinator stories to be told. We’re just lucky to have this story right here in the wild borderlands of southern Arizona.
A couple notes: The photos are mine and were taken at our little homestead. If you would like to read more about yucca moths, I suggest Terry Tempest Williams’ book Pieces of White Shell and the chapter called “Yucca” and in Joseph Wood Krutch’s The Voice of the Desert a chapter called “the moth and the candle”. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to read all of both books.