Megathymus yuccae martini
Martin's Yucca Giant Skipper
A March-April giant skipper that feeds on Yucca species brevifolia and schidigera, subspecies martini haunts the deserts north of the San Gabriels east to Joshua Tree National Park, and up into the Kern County desert and east to the Mojave Preserve. The type locality is Little Rock, north of the San Gabriels in Los Angeles County, where Lloyd Martin collected the holotype in 1945 and the allotype in 1939. Males patrol the washes, waiting for passing females.
Females oviposit on tender shoots, and the caterpillar burrows into the plant. It forms a silk projection with frass on the exterior, and this little brown tower is what a caterpillar hunter should look for. As Gordon Pratt says in the Joshua Tree book, fresh frass outside the tower indicates there is probably a larva inside (they expel excrement outside, not inside, the burrow). The caterpillar overwinters in their protective burrow, pupating before flights begin in March and April.