Knowing how to get rid of sawfly will help save on your pest control program. If you have noticed large amounts of defoliation in your trees and shrubs or ornamentals, you might be able to blame the sawfly.
Despite the name, sawfly are more closely related to wasps and bees. They’re named for the saw-like over postures the females use to slice open leaf or stem tissue to lay their eggs inside.
Once the larvae hatch, they can devour massive amounts of leaves, possibly killing the plants. Some species can even infest grass, creating large visible patches of dead grass on your lawn.
So, in this article, we’ll go over 15 simple ways on how to identify and get rid of sawflies on your property, keeping your plants and grass safe throughout the season.
What is a Sawfly?
A sawfly is an insect of the suborder Symphyta of the order Hymenoptera alongside ants, bees, and wasps.
In order to lay their eggs in plants, females utilize an ovipositor that looks like a saw, hence the common name.
The name is connected mainly with the Tenthredinoidea, by far the largest superfamily in the suborder, with around 7,000 known species; in the entire suborder, there are 8,000 documented species in more than 800 genera.
Symphyta is paraphyletic, consisting of multiple basic groups within the order Hymenoptera, each one rooted inside the previous group, concluding with the Apocrita which are not sawflies.
Having a better understanding of what a sawfly is, is a point ahead of knowing how to get rid of sawfly.
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How to Identify a Sawfly
The first thing you should do in any unique pest control program is to identify what exactly you’re dealing with. Carelessness with identification can lead to wrong treatment methods which will have little or no effect and will cost you time and money.
There are thousands of different species of Sawfly around the world, and they each have a unique appearance from when they hatch as larvae to when they pupate into adults.
Though each species looks different, most generally resemble flies and wasps, adults’ eyes will have two pairs of wings whereas flies only have one pair, and adults flies have thick waste.
On the other hand, wasps have thin waste and also a sawfly looks like a stinger, unlike female wasps despite being closely related to wasps and bees the larvae resemble a flying moth caterpillar.
There are ways to tell soft larvae from a caterpillar, in general, most sawfly larvae have smooth bodies. Some soft larvae are even slimy and translucent and are referred to as slugs.
Additionally, sawfly larvae will always have six or more pairs of prolegs. Caterpillars of all will have five or fewer pairs of prolegs.
Finally, sawfly larvae will exhibit a unique fear that when feeding in groups and threatens, they’ll raise their tail ends as if they want to sting even though they’re like singers.
Picture of a Sawfly
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Signs of Sawfly Infestation
To spot a sawfly infestation, once you know what a sawfly looks like, check around your property to confirm their presence or find hot spots of activity.
If you spotted foliar damage among any trees, shrubs ornamental plants, or even in turf grass and closely. Examine affected plants for signs of sawfly activity.
Look for feeding patterns or the sawflies themselves. The larvae of many species will consume chunks out of the edges of leaves.
Some species that have slug-like larvae will feed on plant tissue in between leaf veins. Larvae that hatch from conifer trees will feed on the tree needles.
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Where to Spot a Sawfly
Knowing the right place to spot a sawfly is part of knowing how to get rid of sawfly. An adult sawfly typically emerged from spring to summer, but they can actually be difficult to spot since they only live for about one week as they mate and lay eggs.
The presence of dead sawflies around your property can indicate future pest activity for the next season. If you time your inspection before larvae hatch, you can spawn eggs laid into the stems of some plants.
In some species, they lay their eggs in the leaves of their hosts forming gulls or rounded growths.
Read also: How to Get Rid of Brown Tail Moths
How to Get Rid of Sawfly in 15 Simple Ways
How to get rid of sawfly? After identifying your pests and inspecting for activity on your property. It’s time to start treatments before starting any treatment, be sure to wear your personal protective equipment.
Remember to keep all people and pets off the treated areas until dry. Treatment is most effective when the larvae are young and less than halfway through their life cycles.
Avoid treating too late as the larvae are close to maturing into adults since then the damage is already done to treating softly larvae.
- Bug Blaster: You can use the bug blaster to blast slugs off of leaves, while Safer Soap can be used to kill larvae.
- Cultivate Trees: Reduce the number of pests that overwinter by cultivating the area around trees and shrubs in the early spring and again in the fall.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Use Diatomaceous earth that is safe for human consumption to ensure your safety for the foreseeable future.
- Organic Soap Spray: Since the larvae are soft-bodied, a DIY spray comprised of 4 tablespoons of organic soap and a gallon of water will help get them off plants. The stickiness will restrict their capacity to move and the film left by the soapy water will kill sawflies by means of suffocation.
- Crushing the Larvae Method: This procedure is quite frequent but gross. Simply don a pair of gloves and squash the larvae and/or eggs on the leaves/needles where you find them. Be sure to examine under the leaves as they can attach themselves anywhere to feed.
- Use the Water Hose: Showering the plants with water will not only give the plants a drink, but it can also knock the worms off the plants. However, be careful not to use too harsh of a spray, or you can wind up harming the plant.
- Initiate Birds: Once adults, the larvae drop to the ground to pupate in the soil. By tilling the soil, you expose the pupa to birds. Moreover, installing a feeder alongside the afflicted plants will entice the birds initially.
- Use Kaolin Clay: When applied to plants, kaolin clay repels sawflies and other insect pests. Just like the diatomaceous earth, the white powdery layer will cause irritation.
- Use Neem Oil: Neem oil is an all-natural pesticide that derives from the Indian Lilac evergreen’s seeds. It includes Azadirachtin, a very strong chemical that fights against a lot of garden pests. To use, blend 4 tablespoons of neem oil with a gallon of water and a little liquid soap. Spray this DIY sawfly killer on leaves and other afflicted areas. Reapply after heavy rains.
- Bring in their Enemies: Natural enemies of sawflies abound. You can find out which ones are local to your area and learn tricks for attracting them by doing some research. Natural enemies include lizards, parasitic wasps, and frogs in addition to birds. Ladybugs are beneficial because they devour other insects, including sawfly larvae.
- Vacuuming: This choice should be made with caution. The plant can be harmed if the nozzle is placed directly on it. Adults might be snatched up before they can escape if the vacuum has sufficient suction and you act quickly enough.
- Use Oil for Plants: Oil used in gardening typically comprises mineral oil. Sawfly eggs and larvae are smothered when a thick coating is put over them. There will be no lasting damage to the plant because the oil is easily removed by water.
- Try Spinosad: This is a biochemical product of fermentation of common soil microorganisms. Rose slugs, caterpillars, and other garden pests are no match for it. Pests are killed in roughly two days after being exposed to Spinosad because it targets their nervous system and paralyzes them. Then you can just rinse them off your plants and start over.
- Nematodes that do good work: Microscopic roundworms and nematodes penetrate the bodies of larvae and pupa and become parasites that finally kill them. Spread helpful nematodes through the soil around your plants. These critters will go for larvae and pupa of harmful insects in the soil.
- AzaGuard: This is a botanical insecticide that works against a range of insect pests, including sawflies. Azadirachtin is its main active component. AzaGuard is safe to use in your organic garden.
How Do I Prevent a Sawfly?
After learning how to get rid of sawfly, prevention is essential to keeping pests in check, even after you’ve applied pesticides, the best way to stop pest activity is to prevent it from happening.
During early spring, if you’re expecting sawfly activity for the season, till the soil around the suspected host plants.
Many sawfly species over winter maybe fall to the ground and burrow as pre-pupa. Some species overwinter as larvae and some even overwinter as eggs.
By binding the soil around the suspected host plants, you can prevent and destroy some passes before they’re able to mature into adults from spring through summer.
Regular watering once a week over and under your host plants. Foliage can wash away eggs or even prevent sawfly activity.
Altogether, you can also boost your plan’s health and make it stronger and healthier plants that are more capable of resisting, and recovering from pest damage.
If an investigation breaks out prune away affected parts to prevent the pests from spreading.
How to get rid of sawfly? Sawfly infestations can quickly devour entire plants, but there are ways to control an investigation that’s gone out of hand.
With these clues from Pestclue, we guarantee you can stop sawflies from infesting your property without the help of a pest control expert.
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