www.photomacrography.net :: View topic - Reproductive end of a yucca moth
www.photomacrography.net Forum Index
An online community dedicated to the practices of photomacrography, close-up and macro photography, and photomicrography.
Photomacrography Front Page Amateurmicrography Front Page
Old Forums/Galleries
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
Reproductive end of a yucca moth

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    www.photomacrography.net Forum Index -> Technical and Studio Photography -- Macro and Close-up
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17420
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:38 am    Post subject: Reproductive end of a yucca moth Reply with quote

I expect this is a bit clinical for some folks' tastes, but I offer it up anyway.

As a high resolution stacked composite, here is the reproductive end of a yucca moth.



Despite what you might be thinking, this is actually a female yucca moth.

The long protruding structure is part of the egg-laying mechanism. It's very rigid, has a sharp hook on the end, and it's connected to some serious muscles inside the abdomen.

The guys who study these things think that this kind of moth uses the hook to scrape grooves in the tissue of a yucca flower, so the tiny larvae can more easily get to good food.

But they're not quite sure about that, because this particular moth presents a special difficulty.

Perhaps you've read of the symbiotic relationship between yucca plants and yucca moths. They have evolved as a co-dependent pair. The yucca plant is pollinated only by the yucca moth, and the yucca moth larvae feed only on the developing seeds of the yucca plant.

What you probably don't know (I certainly didn't!) is that there are several different kinds of yucca plants and moths, all fairly neatly paired up -- each kind of plant with its own kind(s) of moths.

The species of yucca plant that is paired with this moth has a very small range. It's found only in the mountains of southern Baja California (Mexico), and the area where it grows is being rapidly reduced by human-caused encroachment (grazing), probably assisted a bit by climate change.

The moth, of course, has an equally small range. And a short emergence period. And the area is sort of hard to get to.

The upshot is that the adult of this species is known from exactly one specimen. This is it.

The specimen no longer even exists, in this form, because it had to be dissected to allow describing the internal anatomy. There may never be another one, because the chances are fair to middling that the species will go extinct before anybody gets back to sample the area again. Sad

Extended-depth-of-field photography provides a quality of record that would have been impossible just a few years ago. Technology marches on.

Parategeticula ecdysiastica (Pellmyr & Balcázar-Lara) will be the name, after the upcoming publication in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Says the paper, "Etymology: The species epithet is derived from Greek ecdysiast, one who sheds layers, referring to the nearly complete loss of all wing scales during adult emergence."

Many thanks to Dr. Olle Pellmyr, who gave me the opportunity to help document this beast.

--Rik

Canon Digital Rebel with Olympus 38mm f/2.8 bellows lens at f/2.8, 74 frames stacked at 0.0005". Cropped from full frame = 2.55mm wide.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
beetleman



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 3578
Location: Southern New Hampshire USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The information and the photograph are very exciting and interesting Rik. It is sad that this might be the last chance to see this special relationship. You did a wonderful job on the photo IMO.
_________________
Take Nothing but Pictures--Leave Nothing but Footprints.
Doug Breda
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 6909
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed interesting. Very Happy It is a shame that so many things are ending up endangered or just plain gone by encroachment or industrialization of certain areas. Whooping Cranes for example, not many left due to the fact that their habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate and so it seems with this Yucca Moth. Great narrative Rik, many thanks and also thanks to the good doctor Wink
_________________
However, while there is grace where in all that I might live, while there is still breath in my being, while I may or may not accomplish anything more in life than to be living, I shall reflect upon the past, applying it to the present, for to possibly perceive to a near certainty, the outcome of the future.

Ken 2014
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17420
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doug & Ken, thanks for the comments.

Here are another couple of pictures that you might find interesting.

I shot the beast in stereo (two stacks, separated by several degrees), from several different angles. The previous shot was straight from the side. What I'll show you now is an oblique view that may illustrate better how the various parts are positioned relative to one another.

First we'll do it as an animated gif, rocking between left and right eye views (each one stacked). Some people find this sort of animation more compelling than a static stereo view; other people prefer stereo.



Here's another high resolution composite, from the same viewpoint.



The bristles are thought to be touch-sensitive elements, by the way, used during the scraping process. The function of the spikes along the side of the scraper is anybody's guess.

--Rik

PS. In case you happen to wonder about the position of the single isolated scale caught up in the bristles, you're right, it does look inconsistent. The answer is that the first pic in the topic was flipped for aesthetic reasons. Yeah, yeah, I know -- how aesthetic is this thing anyway? Cut me some slack, OK? Laughing It's an interesting beast, and an interesting technical problem to record!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bruce Williams



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 1120
Location: Northamptonshire, England

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An amazing post Rik - great images and most informative and thought provoking. What a privilege to work on such a unique subject too.

Coincidentally, just 10 minutes ago I was watching a documentary from the TV series, "Life of Birds" with David Attenborough. The particular episode looked at how birds feed. One area it considered was the role of different shaped bills and the relationship between individual species of bird and plant. Specifically, by precisely matching bill size and shape with a corresponding flower size and shape, pollen transportation was constrained to flowers of the same species. A particularly extreme adaptation featured the Sword-billed Hummingbird.

Anyway, at first I thought that this was the same relationship as your yucca moth. But of course it's not quite the same. In the case of the hummingbird, the plant trades nectar for transportation of pollen whereas the yucca actually sacrifices some of its seed for the chance of pollenation.

Fascinating!

Very high quality stacking - very three dimensional with excellent detail.

Bruce
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 6909
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those spikes I find interesting too. As for anyones guess, like you said, they could be used for scraping also, seeing as though they are pointing back towards the moths abdomen. When the muscles contract maybe they too contract with it, performing part of the scraping procedure or it could be that they are an "anchor" of sorts, digging in and holding to a specific structure or tissue of the plant or maybe even the male during mating. Think Only speculation on my part, seeing as how I know nothing about moths or insects in general for that matter. Ask me about myxomycetes Laughing
_________________
However, while there is grace where in all that I might live, while there is still breath in my being, while I may or may not accomplish anything more in life than to be living, I shall reflect upon the past, applying it to the present, for to possibly perceive to a near certainty, the outcome of the future.

Ken 2014
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
cactuspic



Joined: 26 Dec 2006
Posts: 429
Location: Dallas, TX

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful shots and post. The information was fascinating.

Irwin
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17420
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the comments, guys!

As followup, some SEM images and more macro shots appear in this later posting.

--Rik
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    www.photomacrography.net Forum Index -> Technical and Studio Photography -- Macro and Close-up All times are GMT - 7 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group