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Introduction

Introduction:

The Prodoxidae is commonly known as the yucca moth family, and it contains some of the icons of coevolution. Small to medium in size, they are among the oldest of all moths. Fewer than 100 species have been described, but ongoing studies have uncovered a great number of species yet to be described.

  

Most prodoxid species fly during the day, but a few were among the very first moths that evolved a nocturnal habit. Most species have highly specific food habits, in that their larvae only eat specific parts of one or a few closely related plant species. If you want to find one of these moths, the easiest way is to search on its host plant because they spend most of their short lives on or around it. For example, if you want to see a yucca moth you can find them resting inside the flowers during the day. And if you come back after dusk with a red flashlight, you can see them in action on the flowers.

  

Members of the Prodoxidae have been of great importance to the study of relationships between insects and plants ever since Darwin. Charles Riley's 1872 discovery that yucca moths are tied in an obligate pollination/herbivory relationship with their hosts quickly turned them into one of the textbook cases of coevolution. Since then, yucca moths and greya moths have come to the fore in exploring questions about host shifts and their role in insect speciation, the evolution of insect pollination, and the evolution of cooperation between species.

  

If you'd like to learn more about the yucca moths and their relatives, use the phylogenetic tree to explore the systematics, ecology, and behavior of the different genera.

  

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