Facts, Identificatio,n & Control

Scientific Name

Hymenoptera Symphyta


What Do They Look Like?

sawflies picture

  • Size: Sawfly adults are about 1/2 inch long.
  • Characteristics: Sawflies may look like flies, but are actually related to bees and wasps. The common name sawfly comes from their ovipositor, which is saw-like in shape and is used by the females to cut into the plants and lay eggs.
  • Body: They have four wings (flies have two,) and unlike many wasps, sawflies do not have the thin segment between the thorax and abdomen.

How Did I Get Sawflies?

Homes surrounded by trees and landscaping are prone to a sawfly infestation. The insects don't normally enter houses, but larvae may fall into open doors and windows from branches close to buildings. Adults can also fly inside through the same openings. Sawflies are not actually flies, but are in the same insect group as bees, wasps, and ants.

How Serious Are Sawflies?

These pests aren't an issue indoors, and unlike other wasps, females do not sting. However, infestations can affect outdoor trees. While they are usually benign, some species with large populations produce serious economic damage to large forests and cultivated plant acreages. 

Larvae Damage

Larvae feeding habits can slow or stop plant growth, weaken leaves, and wilt stems. Both mature and larval sawflies are harmless to humans. Sawflies infest many species of trees and a large infestation may weaken a tree’s ability to withstand damage caused by other tree infesting insects.

How Do I Get Rid of Sawflies?

What You Can Do

Keeping your trees and plants healthy. Plants that are young and in poor health are likely to experience more injury and damage than healthy plants. If practical, you can also hand pick sawfly larvae from your plants.

Grown trees and shrubs can withstand moderate sawfly defoliation without experiencing reduced growth or mortality. This is due to the abundance of predators such as wasps and beetles, plus the occurrence of fungal and viral diseases that often kill off sawfly populations. So, it is not wise to use conventional insecticides that will kill their predators.

What Orkin Does

If you need help with a sawfly infestation, seek the assistance of your pest management professional rather than relying on do-it-yourself procedures. Some other components of an effective sawfly management program include:

  • Inspection: Frequently inspect plants for sawfly damage. The earlier you find sawflies, the easier it will be to manage the population and prevent damage to your trees or shrubs.
  • Identification:Asking your pest management professional to identify any insect specimens to ensure that the correct control options are used. Your pest management professional can also advise you whether it is worthwhile to apply a conventional insecticide for sawfly control.

Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage sawflies and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep sawflies in their place…out of your home, or business.

Behavior, Diet, Habits

What Do They Eat?

Since there are so many different species of sawfly, their preferred host plants vary a great deal. Most coniferous feeding sawflies eat the tree’s needles and buds. Deciduous feeders will skeletonize, mine, or chew holes in the leaves. Sawflies feed on a wide variety of:

  • Coniferous & Deciduous Trees
  • Fruits
  • Nectar
  • Pollen
  • Wood

The sawfly larval stages are plant feeders and look much like the caterpillar of butterflies and moths. Sawfly larvae will either feed inside or on the outside surface of plant leaves and stems or inside a gall that is produced when the female stings the plant leaf or stem. Sawflies usually have one generation per year and spend the winter months in the larval or pupal stages.