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Common Sawfly (Various spp.)

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

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image of the Common-Sawfly Thumbnail image of the Common-Sawfly
Image Credit: Amber C. from Barre, VT
Full-sized image #2 of the Common-Sawfly Thumbnail image #2 of the Common-Sawfly

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

Updated: 01/26/2021; 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
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 0mm to 0mm (0" to 0")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red
Descriptors: green caterpillar; wasp; harmless; flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 0mm (0.0in) and 0mm (0.0in)
Lo: 0mm
Md: 0mm
Hi: 0mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
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Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Sawfly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Common Sawfly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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