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Common Sawfly (Tenthredo spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Sawfly.




Sawflies are wasps that lack stingers and look a lot like flies, but larvae are the better mimics.



 Updated: 1/13/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Female Sawflies have a saw-like organ that helps them place their eggs inside twigs and stems for better protection from the elements and predators. Sawflies look like flies, but they are actually wasps. Fortunately, this type of wasps lacks a stinger. They may be brown, black, black and yellow, or black and red depending on the species.

The larvae of the Sawfly looks very much like a caterpillar. The body shape, colors, and patterns seen on sawfly larvae are also commonly see in butterfly and moth larvae. One way to distinguish between them is by counting the number of prolegs (the back legs). Sawflies have more than 6 sets, while caterpillars have fewer than that. Sawflies never get longer than 25 mm (1 inch), while caterpillars can span the palm of an adult's hand. Recognizing a sawfly larva is useful, especially if it is attacking trees and shrubs. Healthy plants can tolerate sawfly damage, but a large population of sawfly larvae can do serious harm to them.


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmless insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Tenthredinidae [ View More ]
          Genus: Tenthredo [ View More ]
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Descriptors
Scientific Name: Tenthredo spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red
Descriptors: green caterpillar; wasp; harmless; flying
Relative Size Comparison
Lo: 0mm | Hi: 0mm
Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.
Territorial Map
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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