Whilst it might seem like sawflies should have been in the flies post, sawflies are not actually flies.  They are a group of insects related to wasps and bees. Their name is due to the saw-like ovipositor the adult female uses to cut into the plants where she will lay eggs. Adult sawflies do not sting and are rather inconspicuous wasp-like insects. Unlike most wasps, they have a broad connection between the abdomen and the thorax. I have not noticed any adult sawflies, but they only live for 7-9 days, where as the larval stage lasts from months to years, depending on the species.

DSC_5633Zebra caterpillar on tap.jpg

We had quite a number of the Pine Sawfly larvae at the cottage last year.

DSC_5463ant and caterpillar.jpg

I guess they make a good meal for ants!

DSC_6018caterpillar.jpg   DSC_6023caterpillar.jpg

I find their markings rather beautiful.

DSC_5500elm sawfly larva.jpg

We have also seen the Elm Sawfly Larva. It also eats birch, poplar, basswood, willow and maple as well as elm.

DSC_5520elm sawfly larva.jpg

It is the largest North American sawfly.

DSC_5531Elm Sawfly larva.jpg

The mature larvae crawl to the ground and spin a tough, papery cocoon around themselves in leaf litter or just below the surface of the soil and remain as larvae through the winter. They pupate the following spring.


I am not sure what type of larva this is, but I did read that there is a parasitic nematode that infests caterpillars and turns them red. It deters birds from eating the caterpillar and in the process protects the nematodes. However, some sawfly larvae turn bright colours when they are about to pupate, so perhaps this one is about to pupate.


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