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mutualisms: Senita moth and Senita Cactus
All photographs © Gregory G. and Mary Beth Dimijian
The senita moth, less than 1/2 inch long, is an obligate partner in a newly discovered mutualism with the senita cactus, whose flowers bloom only after dark and are pollinated almost exclusively by this moth. The moth lays its eggs (top right) in flowers. Larvae (moth caterpillars) which hatch from these eggs later consume some of the fruits. J. Nathaniel Holland of Rice University has studied this mutualism in Mexico and at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. His research assistant (right) checks fruits for larvae.
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