En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Flying insects attacking yucca flacida in Wilmington NC

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 11, 2010

From: Wilmington, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pollinators, Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Flying insects attacking yucca flacida in Wilmington NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do I treat flying insects from eating the flowers on my Yucca Flaccida shrub.

ANSWER:

Instead of being visited by damaging flying insects on your Yucca flaccida (weak-leaf yucca), we believe the flowers are being pollinated by the yucca moth partnered by genetics with that precise yucca plant. Here is a very good article from the  USDA Forest Service on Yucca moths. According to this article, at some point in the history of the moth-yucca co-dependence, the moth may have actually been feeding on the blooms.

When you see flying insects around your yucca, they are most likely females selecting a place to deposit their eggs, which is in the seed pod. She collects pollen and then pollinates the flower. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the seeds in the fruit. The mature yucca moth eats nothing, because they have only a few days to live. Please don't spray any pesticides around that yucca, because you will interrupt a very important process in your yucca. After the blooms have all gone and the fruit has dried, the fruit will open and the seeds will be ready to move to a place to grow a new plant.

Working  at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on cleaning Texas native plant seeds to send to the Millennium Seed Bank, we have cleaned the dried fruits of yuccas to obtain seeds for the Seed Bank. Many of these seeds had little round holes in them, rendering them sterile, of course. This was the results of the larvae feeding; in fact, we sometimes chanced on a larva that had not yet left the nest. The yucca has adjusted to not allow all its seeds to be eaten by producing a LOT of seeds. Here are some pictures of the yucca moth.

Pictures of the yucca moth from Google 

Pictures of Yucca flaccida (weak-leaf yucca) from Google

 

More Pollinators Questions

Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX
July 30, 2012 - I see information on Pink Evening Primrose that says it attracts 'many butterflies' Please tell me which butterflies and name them? I've looked everywhere and am just exhausted and frustrated with...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on pollinators
February 20, 2005 - I am researching threatened pollinators in Texas and elsewhere - bees, butterflies, hummingbirds. I would like your input on the subject.
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Dogwoods cross-pollinating from Snyder, CO
October 24, 2012 - I have a red twig and a yellow twig dogwood. Will they cross-pollinate to produce berries? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Blue-green bees
April 30, 2008 - Over a month ago I sent this query to the AAS Garden Editor. What a waste of time since she exhibited no knowledge and no interest. Finally, she told me to ask you about the green bees that came by in...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center