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Dogwood Sawfly (Macremphytus tarsatus)

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

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The black and white sawfly is wasp-like, but this type of insect has larvae that act more like caterpillars.

Updated: 01/18/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Dogwood Sawfly is black with a few, small, white markings, but the easiest to notice are at the tips of its antennae. A sawfly does not sting, though it is a type of wasp. Females have an appendage that has teeth like a saw blade, and they use it to cut slits into twigs or stems where they deposit eggs.

The larva of this sawfly looks a lot like a caterpillar. It also eats like a caterpillar, feeding on the leaves of dogwood trees. The young larva is white with a yellow belly. Its body looks like it is covered in white lint or fuzz. The dark head has a powdery coat on it. As it ages, the fuzz disappears, and the smooth body retains its yellow belly. The top of the caterpillar, however, develops black squares that are crisscrossed with a thin white line. It may be seen in the company of its siblings, curled up in a small pile on a leaf. Look for these non-caterpillar larvae on dogwood leaves where they chew from the edges inward.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
Harmless insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Tenthredinidae
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          Genus: Macremphytus
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            Species: tarsatus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Macremphytus tarsatus
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 22mm (0.78" to 0.86")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; white
Descriptors: white tip antennae; flying; white on body; bee; wasp; harmless

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 22mm (0.9in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 21mm
Hi: 22mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Dogwood 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 Dogwood Sawfly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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