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Agavenema Davis

Agavenema sp.

Olle Pellmyr
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N.B.: Additional Agavenema species are known, and will appear here after description in a formal revision.
Containing group: Prodoxidae


Frack (1982) stated that the following morphological traits distinguish Agavenema from Prodoxus:

Brown et al. (1994) using a subset of Prodoxus species in a phylogenetic reconstruction based on DNA sequence data found Agavenema to be nested within Prodoxus. Further analyses currently under way should provide further resolution on this matter.

Species delineations within this genus are also contested. Davis (1967) recognized two species, A. barberella (Busck) and A. pallida Davis. Frack (1982) expressed reservations about this division, stating that it may represent one rather variable species or a complex of many sibling species. He recognized one distinct undescribed species (see top figure).

Because of the current uncertainty with regard to the genus status and species delineations, both described taxa are presented under this entry.

Adult Characteristics

A. barberella: Wing expanse 11-21 mm. Forewing near white, with numerous scattered dark brown spots and streaks. Hindwings medium to dark brown.

A. pallida: Wing expanse 17-25 mm. Forewing near white to light gray, with scattered dark brown spots and streaks, occasionally almost without maculation. Hindwings medium to dark brown.

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A. pallida; Riverside Co., California

Comparison with Similar Species

Davis stated that A. pallida is a larger and paler species, that the vinculum and saccus in the male genitalia are relatively longer in pallida, and that pallida ovipositor serration is finer and with more teeth than in barberella. Frack suggested that intermediate states were found in more extensive material.

Host, Oviposition, and Larval Feeding Habits

Females oviposit into the stalks of several Agave species; A. barberella sensu Davis was confined to A. palmeri, whereas Frack reported five known hosts for the complex.

Geographic Distribution

Agavenema barberella sensu Davis was found in southeastern Arizona and A. pallida to southern California. Frack stated that he had seen material from California to Arizona, and southward into Baja California and mainland Mexico.


In shrubby desert with Agave.


Holotypes of both named entities in USNM.

Other Names for Agavenema sp.


Brown, J.M., O.Pellmyr, J.N. Thompson & R.G.Harrison. 1994. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny of the Prodoxidae (Lepidoptera: Incurvarioidea) indicates rapid ecological diversification of yucca moths. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 87:795-802.

Davis, D.R. 1967. A revision of the moths of the subfamily Prodoxinae (Lepidoptera: Incurvariidae). U.S. Nat. Hist. Mus., Bull. 255:1-170. Smiths. Contrib. Zool. 524:1-88.

Frack, D.C. 1982. A systematic study of prodoxine moths (Adelidae: Prodoxinae) and their hosts (Agavaceae), with descriptions of the subfamilies of Adelidae (s. lat.). M.S. thesis, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Agavenema sp.
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0.
Copyright © 1996
About This Page

University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA

Page: Tree of Life Agavenema Davis. Agavenema sp.. Authored by Olle Pellmyr. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Pellmyr, Olle. 1996. Agavenema Davis. Agavenema sp.. Version 01 January 1996 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Agavenema_sp./12423/1996.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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