Pine Sawflies

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Pine Sawflies

Pine Sawfly
Pine sawflies 1.JPG
Type: Insect
Order: Hymenoptera
Metamorphosis: Complete
Damaging stages: Larvae
Season: Summer
Generations per year: 1-2
Vulnerable stages: Young larvae

The Pine Sawflies are a group of insects that eat the needles of various species of pine. They feed as larvae in large colonies. They are often mistaken for caterpillars, but like all sawflies they are actually closer relatives to wasps and bees rather than moths and butterflies.

Because of their colonial habit, they can cause severe damage to individual pine branches, completely stripping the foliage and leaving only unattractive branches. They tend not to eat the buds, however, so the branch tips usually leaf out afterwards.

Description[edit]

The larvae are generally greenish, found in large colonies. They "rear up" when a branch they are feeding on is disturbed, which is a defense mechanism that can scare off birds.

Ecology[edit]

Found on pines throughout the landscape, with some species being preferred over others. The adults are good fliers.

Host plants[edit]

Pine sawfly 2.JPG

Control[edit]

  • Physical removal: Pruning out infested limbs is often the best strategy, as the limbs will be unattractive after feeding in any case.
If caught early before much damage is done, some gardeners simply squash them on small pines. Gloves are a must, as both the squashed larvae and the damaged leaves are quite sticky.