Breathtaking Flora & Fauna

That is how I would describe this spring at the LBJ NG! And on the First Wednesday we headed to the open prairie to see for ourselves!

However before I get to all the amazing fauna and flora I learned about the name of a creature that I had seen before. However I did get it to the correct genus last year. And Kate (shown leaning forward) did it for me. Thank you Kate!

And furthermore I asked Kate to share her story on the sleuthing of this creature. So what follows is straight from Kate’s keyboard! 🙂

“April 27 I was helping with the City Nature Challenge BioBlitz at the Walsh Ranch in Parker County.  I made about 200 observations and one of them was of a small white moth on a leaf of spreading sida.  When I uploaded it that evening, iNaturalist didn’t have a suggested ID, but offered 9 potentials.  At a glance none of them looked likely so I just chose “Butterflies and Moths” and moved on.  A bit later, I started wondering why iNaturalist didn’t have a suggested ID, and decided to see if I could figure it out.

I started by checking out the 9 items in iNat’s list.  Most of them were easily dismissed and only a few took a second glance, but nothing looked likely until I reached the last suggestion, Bogus Yucca Moth.  I opened its description page and saw photos with a variety of colorations, a few of which matched my moth.  I thought “Eureka that’s it!” and entered Bogus Yucca Moth as my ID.  I did notice there were only 3 observations that had been documented in North Texas, and realized I probably needed an expert to validate my id.  The top two identifers had each identified only 3 BYMs!  One was in New Mexico, egordon88, and the other was sambiology.  I sent them both a request to please review my moth, and I went back to the information on the iNat BYM page where I noticed that “Bogus Yucca Moth” was the name of the genus and there were several species.  My little moth was actually a Five-Spotted Bogus Moth, Prodoxus quinquepunctellus, so I upgraded my id to that and I turned to the internet to research this interesting little moth.

It occurs from Alberta, Canada to south Texas, but only where the Yucca plant, Yucca spp, and the Yucca Moth, Tegticula yuccasella, both occur.  I already knew that Yucca plants were fertilized only by Yucca Moths.  What I learned was the Bogus Yucca Moth then deposits her eggs in the flowering stalk of a fertilized Yuccas plant.  Flowering stalks of unfertilized plants do not produce fruit and those stalks will wither before the BYM larvae could complete their development.  The BYMs’ existence is particularly fragile as it is dependent on not one but two highly-specialized and totally interdependent organisms!  And why the name Bogus Yucca Moth?  It’s because they need the fertilized flowering stalk of the Yucca plant for their larvae to develop, but they do not fertilize or provide any other service to the Yucca plant.  In a way they are parasitic on the Yucca plant.

By the time I learned all this, both egordon88 and sambiology had verified my id of Five-Spotted Bogus Yucca Moth.  That raised the North Texas count to 4.  I found one more in iNaturalist and verified the id, raising the total to 5.

Yucca and Bogus Yucca Moths are quite similar, shaped alike and both being primarily white, although the BYM can have a variable number of black spots or even larger black areas.  Yucca Moths’ wingspan varies from 18 to 27 mm, Bogus Yucca Moths are typically smaller with wingspans from 12 to 23 mm.  In all of North American iNat observations, the Yucca Moth appears 146 times and the Five-Spotted Bogus Yucca Moth appears 29 times.  I believe the low numbers are at least partially due to the difficulty seeing the little white moths on white Yucca blossoms and the fact that few people go crawling around peering upward into the open ends of Yucca blooms!  In the last two days I’ve seen another 3 BYMs in North Texas and was able to document one.  So I think they are underrepresented in iNaturalist.”

Kate’s references:

Kate’s iNat post of the Prodoxus quinquepunctella Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth

The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth, Prodoxus quinquepunctellus

COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Yucca Moth Tegeticula yuccasella Non-pollinating Yucca Moth Tegeticula corruptrix Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth Prodoxus quinquepunctellus

Here was the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth (Prodoxus quinquepunctella) that Kate showed us on the First Wednesday outing!
So this is where you will find this moth in the blooms of the Arkansas Yucca (Yucca arkansana) and other Yucca species. This is by far the most common Yucca species on the grasslands. Note: I took this photo at home today and not at the First Wednesday outing.
Armed with the new knowledge from Kate, I looked in my photo folders for the moth. In fact last year I raised this one from a larva which is the following photo!
Here was the larva in the stem of the Arkansas Yucca! Looking for the giant skipper larva I found this larva of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth in November 26, 2022 instead.

Indeed a BIG thank you to Kate for sharing and doing the write-up! Wonderful!

More from the First Wednesday outing tomorrow.

8,000 Years Ago, Humans Navigated Deep Into a Dark French Cave. The Question Is: How?

Wild Animal Seen Treating Wound With Medicinal Plant in First Documented Case

Keep looking!

The more you know, the more you see and the more you see, the more you know


  1. Thank you to Kate! Great investigative reporting on the wonderful life of the BYM.

  2. Mary, I get to thank you! You are the person who taught me to look for small creatures and wonder how they fit in the larger world. If I can continue that cycle of learning and sharing, then I’m lucky beyond words. :>)

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