Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

A list of bloom times for wildflowers in Michigan
July 03, 2013 - Hello, I am new to bee keeping and live in central Michigan. Can you tell me or do you know where I could find a list of the Michigan wild flower bloom times? This would be very helpful to me. Than...
view the full question and answer

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

Why is my yaupon tree not producing berries in Metairie La?
November 04, 2009 - What is the lifespan of a Yaupon Tree? We live in Louisiana, and our Yaupon would always get the white flowers in the Spring but never the red berries. Why is that?
view the full question and answer

Pollinators of Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree)
March 19, 2015 - What are the pollinators of Bauhinia lunarioides? Also, is it a host plant for any butterfly or moth caterpillars?
view the full question and answer

Zucchini blooms but no fruit
August 26, 2008 - My zuchinni has lots of flowers, but they seem to fall and I am getting no fruit.. WHY
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.