Sawflies Facts

Sawflies Facts
Sawflies are group of insects whose closest relatives are wasps. There are 9 families of sawflies that belong to the order Hymenoptera. Sawflies exist on the planet at least 200 million years. They inhabit deciduous and coniferous forests, woodlands, marshes and gardens. Sawflies are classified as pest in most parts of the world due to significant damage (defoliation) they produce on cultivated plants.
Interesting Sawflies Facts:
Sawflies can reach 0.11 to 0.78 inches in length.
Sawflies can be metallic blue, black or yellowish-brown colored. Some species have yellow bands on the abdomen.
Sawflies have pair of antennas on top of the head, large, stocky body and 2 pairs of transparent wings with dark markings. Their mouth apparatus is designed for chewing.
Most sawflies feed on leaves, fruit, pollen and nectar. Some species are carnivorous. Their diet is based on insects.
Sawflies are often highly specialized for a certain type of food. Willow sawflies feed on the leaves of willow, while pine sawflies eat needles of pines.
Certain types of sawflies spend their life inside the twigs or stem of various grasses. Pine sawflies start their life inside the pine cones.
Sawflies from the family Pamphiliidae produce silk. They create inconspicuous shelter by binding the leaves with silk threads.
Name "sawfly" originates from the fact that females have jackknife-shaped ovipositor (organ that is used for depositing of eggs). It functions like saw which opens the stems and leaves where females lay their eggs.
Ovipositor of sawflies looks like a stinger, but it cannot inflict painful stings to humans and animals like stinger of wasps.
Life cycle of sawflies consists of 4 developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult insect. Sawflies produce one generation per year. Females lay eggs during the spring or summer. Eggs laid during the summer remain dormant during the winter and hatch at the beginning of the spring. Some species of sawflies overwinter in pupa stage.
Larvae of sawflies resemble caterpillars (larvae of moths and butterflies). Unlike caterpillars that have up to 5 false legs, larvae of sawflies have 6 or more short leg-like structures on bottom side of the body.
Sawflies usually spend larval stadium in large groups. Some larvae release foul-smelling substance to repel the predators. Larvae of spitflies (type of sawflies) "spit" eucalyptus oil (obtained from the leaves of eucalyptus) on the predators.
Larvae retreat into the soil at the end of the larval stage and encapsulate themselves (dormant, pupa stage). Few weeks later (usually during the autumn), fully developed adult insects emerge from the capsules.
Larvae of sawflies are important source of food for the birds, insectivorous mammals, wasps and large flies.
Most species of sawflies complete their life cycle in one year. Adults live only few weeks.

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