Species Profile

Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth

Scientific Name: Prodoxus quinquepunctellus
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
Range: Alberta
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2013
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth


The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is a small moth with a wingspan of 11 to 21 mm. The body of the moth is entirely covered in white scales. Usually, the upper surfaces of the forewings are white, with 18 small dark spots. The hindwings, which range from white to grey, usually appear darker than the forewings. The undersides of the forewings are a medium brown, while the undersides of the hindwings are a brownish-grey colour. The fringes of both sets of wings are entirely white. The adults rest inside soapweed flowers during the day and move onto the flowering stalks in the evening. All of the immature stages of the moth occur within the flowering stalk of the host plant, soapweed. The eggs are soft and white and approximately 0.4 mm in diameter. The caterpillars are whitish in the early stages and turn pale green as they grow. They are 5 to 7 mm long when mature. The caterpillars then pupate. The pupa has a prominent frontal “beak,” a structure that most likely aids the pupa in creating an exit hole in the stalk.   This moth can be distinguished from the yucca moth by the dark spots on its forewings. (Updated 2009/04/17)


Distribution and Population

The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is a geographically widespread species in North America. Its range extends from southern Alberta to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in the south and from the Great Plains to the Atlantic coast of the United States in the east. In Canada, the species is known from only one population established near Onefour, in the valley of the Lost River, a tributary of the Milk River, in the southeastern corner of Alberta.   The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is restricted to populations of its host plant. There are two naturally occurring populations of soapweed in Alberta. The first is scattered along the slopes of the Lost River and the second is located on the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve, in the Milk River drainage basin, but it does not appear to support a population of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. The only Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth population in Canada was estimated, in 2002, at 500 to several thousand individuals. However, without long-term data, it is impossible to determine the trends of this population, which appears to be relatively secure from any immediate threat. (Updated 2009/04/17)



The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is entirely dependent on its host plant. The moth lays its eggs on this drought-resistant perennial, which also serves as food and shelter for the caterpillars. In Alberta, soapweed is restricted to the Milk River drainage basin, an arid region characterized by hot summers and low precipitation. The species grows mainly in shallow limestone soil on well-drained eroding, exposed, south-facing slopes. (Updated 2009/04/17)



Relatively little is known about the biology of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. Adult moths rest in soapweed flowers during the day and use them as mating sites in the evening. After copulation, females lay their eggs directly into the flowering stalks. Nine days later, the young caterpillars hatch and begin to feed on the stem tissue. The caterpillars complete their development protected within the plant stem and remain in the stalk over one or several winters. The adults emerge in a subsequent flowering season.   The most important factor affecting the survival of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is the production of soapweed fruit, which in turn depends on the yucca moth. By pollinating the flowers of soapweed, the yucca moth enables soapweed to produce fruit. The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is therefore completely dependent on the yucca moth. In the absence of fruit, the flowering stalk of soapweed quickly withers, and the caterpillars in those stalks suffer almost complete mortality. (Updated 2009/04/17)



The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is limited by the number of soapweed flowering stalks and the production of fruit. Thus, factors that threaten either the host plant or its pollinator, the yucca moth, will also have a detrimental effect on the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth.   Onefour represents an isolated northern outlier for populations of soapweed, along with the associated yucca moth and the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. There is evidence to suggest that the small, declining peripheral populations of soapweed may not contain enough plants to sustain a viable population of yucca moths. Soapweed populations with few yucca moths would produce fewer fruit, and this would likely lead to the decline of the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth.   Consumption of flowers by pronghorn antelope and mule deer can seriously compromise the reproductive success of soapweed and the moths that depend on it. Pronghorns eat only the soapweed flowers, whereas mule deer usually eat the entire flowering stalk, destroying all the caterpillars inside the stalk. During times of drought, mule deer also eat developing fruit.   Other possible threats include destruction of the host plant by off-road traffic and the collection of soapweed for horticultural and medicinal uses. (Updated 2009/04/17)



Federal Protection

The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

In Alberta, the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is not protected under any provincial statute. (Updated 2009/04/17)

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Amended Recovery Strategy for the Soapweed (Yucca glauca) and Yucca Moth (Tegeticula yuccasella) and Recovery Strategy for the Non-pollinating Yucca Moth (Tegeticula corruptrix) and the Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth (Prodoxus quinquepunctellus) in Ca
Status First posting on SAR registry



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

12 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth (2013)

    The Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth is known from only two sites in Canada, one of which was discovered in 2011. This moth species is an obligate stem borer on the stalks of Soapweed. Larval survival is dependent on the mutualistic relationship between the Soapweed and its pollinator Yucca Moth. The flowers on non-pollinated Soapweed stalks whither faster than pollinated stalks, resulting in almost complete mortality of immature life stages of Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth. The loss of flowers or seeds as a result of ungulate herbivory is an ongoing threat, while in the long term Soapweed populations may be limited by the lack of fire and other disturbances that provide sites for the establishment of seedlings.
  • Response Statements - Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth (2006)

    This highly specialized moth exists in Canada as a single population that occurs in a very small, restricted area, isolated from the main range of the species in the United States. The moth is entirely dependent on the obligate mutualistic relationship between its host plant (Soapweed), and the plant’s pollinator (Yucca Moth), both of which are at a high level of risk. It is threatened by the high level of wild ungulate herbivory, which in some years greatly reduces recruitment of the moth, its host plant and the host plant pollinator, and by off-road vehicles that destroy the host plant.

Recovery Strategies


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2007) (2007)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of 40 species done pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) and in accordance with subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2007)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006)

    2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report – 2012-2013 (2013)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 2 Endangered: 28 Threatened: 19 Special Concern: 19 Data Deficient: 4 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 73 Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act Terrestrial Species: December 2006 (2006)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list. Please submit your comments by March 16, 2007 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 14, 2008 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 31, 2017