En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Native plants in Denton Co. TX pollinated by bats or hummingbirds
December 07, 2011 - I am looking for a list of Denton Co. TX native plants that are pollinated by bats? Do we have any? How about hummingbirds?
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

A Bounty of Edibles for New Braunfels Texas
October 25, 2013 - I was hoping you could suggest a few plants that would serve several purposes. I live in New Braunfels, TX and would like to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants which would support birds, but...
view the full question and answer

Pollinator for Hymenocallis palmeri
August 06, 2007 - Okay, Ms. Smarty Plants, let's see if I can stump you. I feel blessed to have seen an alligator lily (Hymenocallis palmeri) in the Everglades, while doing photopoints with my boss. Please tell me w...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pollinators & honey bees in PA
March 12, 2012 - In the database section entitled "Value to Beneficial Insects" on the page for "Tilia americana L" (also known as the Bee Tree, or Linden Tree, American Basswood); the tree is identified as being ...
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