These voracious worm-like insects won’t stop until they have chewed through the entire leaves and then damaged the plants.
In this guide, we will talk about:
- How to identify sawflies
- What Sawflies eat and where sawflies live
- Natural methods to eliminate sawfly larvae
- And More
By the end of this post, you can know some sawfly information and how to control, repel, and kill sawflies.
What Is A Sawfly?
At first glance, a young sawfly may look like an ordinary caterpillar. The adult sawfly resembles that of a wasp or a fly. The insects are even called “stingless wasps” because they do not sting. But according to some researchers, they belong in the Hymenoptera Symphyta sub-order similar to the bees, ants, and wasps, and these insects are plant eaters or herbivores. In a gist, they are pests that destroy leaves or foliage, and in appearance, have a slightly bigger waist than the wasp.
What Does A Sawfly Look Like?
It looks like a wasp with a wider waist. An adult sawfly is about half an inch long, and it does not have stingers. These insects are related to wasps and bees, and it has a saw-like ovipositor. That is why these insects are called sawflies. The female sawflies use their ovipositor to feed and also lay eggs.
Sawflies have four wings, while a traditional fly has only two. Wasps have this line between their thorax and abdomen, but it is not like that on sawflies.
How To Identify Sawflies From Insects?
As larvae, the sawfly may seem like a caterpillar except for its prolegs. Caterpillars have two to at most, five prolegs. In contrast, the sawfly has six and, on some, even more than six pairs of prolegs. Also, their prolegs are small, unlike those of regular caterpillars that are evident. The sawfly caterpillar is smooth, hairless, and small, while the common caterpillar often has hair and sometimes spin, which is more than 1 inch long.
What Do Sawflies Eat?
When sawflies feed, it can be mild or severe. Here are some types of sawflies with their common names and where they feed:
- European pine sawfly – Scientific name is Neodiprion sertifer, and it is found in pine trees, particularly in Mugo, Scot’s, Red, and Jack.
- Roseslug sawfly – Scientific name is Endelomyia aethiops, and it feeds on roses.
- Pear sawfly – Scientific name is Caliroa cerasi. It lives and thrives on pear and apple trees and sometimes feeds on cherry, plum, hawthorn, and cotoneaster trees.
- Birch leafminer – Scientific name is Fenusa pusilla. These sawflies prey on birch trees, most common in white, paper, and gray.
- Elm Sawfly – Scientific name is Cimbex Americana. They attack elm trees and willow trees too.
- Dogwood Sawfly – Scientific name is Macremphytus tarsatus, and they eat dogwood shrubs also.
- Columbine Sawfly – Scientific name is Pristiphora rufipes. They eat columbine leaves up to their midvein and then leave larvae. This causes too much damage. Fortunately, the columbine recovers, and the leaves regrow.
- Mountain ash sawfly – Scientific name is Pristiphora geniculate, and it only grows, lives, eats, and propagates on Mountain ash. It does not bring anything good to the tree, just destruction.
- Dusky birch sawfly – Scientific name is Croesus latitarsus. They eat in groups and love devouring birch tree leaves on the edges.
- Scarlet Oak Sawfly – Scientific name is Caliroa quercuscoccineae. These sawflies are fond of Northern red and pin oak trees.
- Pine catkin sawfly – Scientific name is Xyela. They live on pine catkins (pine cones) and form these white larvae droppings during springtime.
- White pine sawfly – Scientific name is Neodiprion pinetum. These sawflies feed only from June to August.
Where do sawflies live?
They live in the trees, shrubs, and plants that they feed on, as stated above.
Do sawflies sting?
No, they do not. They are called stingless wasps because they are not capable of stinging.
Do birds eat sawfly larvae?
It seems that sawfly larvae do not taste good and are not appealing to many birds. But it was said that birds like currawong and stonechats could stomach a young and adult sawfly.
Are sawflies good or bad? Are they dangerous?
They may be harmless to humans and animals, but sawflies are very damaging to plants and trees. The larvae sawfly is the most destructive critter since all they do is munch on the leaves of a tree or shrub.
Also Read: More Ways To Kill Sawfly Larvae Naturally
How To Eliminate Sawfly Larvae Naturally
According to some studies, here are natural ways to get rid of sawflies:
- Kill the larvae. You can squish the critter, but it can be very icky.
- Some birds do eat sawflies, and so, as they drop to the ground during their pupa stage, you can cultivate the soil. It will expose the pupa for birds to feed on during winter.
- Mix organic soap with water and spray it on leaves. This will make the leaves slick, and the larvae will slide off or find it difficult to move. Also, the soapy water solution can suffocate the larvae.
- You can take the larvae off of the plants and leaves by hosing them with water.
- Use food grade Diatomaceous Earth on leaves and plants that are being attacked by sawflies. It will cut up their soft bodies.
- Another natural way to get rid of sawflies is by using kaolin clay. It contains silica that can create difficulty for a sawfly to crawl from one place to another. Their soft bodies cannot endure the sharp silica, and it will kill them as they travel.
- Neem oil has always been known as an insect killer. Mix it with water and some liquid soap, then spray it on the affected area for at least a week. Horticultural oil will suffocate sawflies, and both oils mentioned here will not harm the plants.
- Spinosad will work on adult sawflies by paralyzing their nervous system upon contact, while nematodes will work on larvae with the same effect.
Sawflies provide no benefit to plants and trees. The only thing they can do is to eat and destroy. While it does not hurt humans since it has to stingers, not does it hurt animals, but it can truly devastate plant life. It will attack a very healthy orchard or garden and kill it whole in a matter of months. The infestation must be dealt with immediately or during the larvae stage of the sawfly when it is most damaging.