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pine tree sawfly identification

Pine Tree Sawfly Life Cycle and Identification

While many pest or insect types that impact trees and risk disease will generally die off by late fall or winter, there are others that maintain longer cycles and present different risks. One example here, known by those with pine trees on their property, is known as the pine sawfly, which has a life cycle that involves all four seasons of the year and, for this and other reasons, may present different risks than other tree insects.

At Affordable Tree Care, we’re happy to offer numerous tree health services, including insect control and tree spraying services that will prevent many of the worst kinds of invading insects from impacting your trees. What is the pine sawfly, how is its life cycle different from many other tree insects, and what can you do to identify and prevent it with the assistance of our arborists? This two-part blog series will go over all the basics.

pine tree sawfly identification

Pine Sawfly Definition and Impact

The pine sawfly is actually a fairly broad description, referring to a general species of Neodiprion that have many of the same qualities. This group will also sometimes be called conifer sawflies.

These sawflies impact not only pine trees and some other species, but also many shrub types. They are known to strip the needles from trees, particularly in many smaller pine trees (though all sizes can be impacted). This will lead to death in some trees and significant deformation in others, and will have a major impact on any new foliage that grows on the tree that season.

General Life Cycle

As we noted above, the pine sawfly has a different life cycle than many other tree pests. During the late summer and fall periods, the adult female sawfly will use an ovipositor on her body to cut slits in pine needles, where she will then lay her eggs. Over the following winter and into mid-spring of the following year, the eggs will eventually hatch.

From here, larvae will feed on old foliage while mature larvae continue to feed. This will lead to defoliation on pine trees stretching all the way through spring and even into summer or fall in some cases, with outbreaks that can last multiple years in some cases.

Appearance and Identification

Identification is a major part of preventing and treating the pine sawfly, as picking up its signs early will help cut off its cycle. By July of a given summer, pine tree owners should be looking for larvae that seem somewhat similar to caterpillars, but have six-plus prolegs. They can be several different colors, but green and black are most common. Adults are just shy of half an inch long, with yellow-colored legs, while the males are a little smaller and darker.

For more on pine sawfly risks and prevention methods for pine trees, or to learn about any of our tree disease prevention, tree trimming or tree removal services, speak to the staff at Affordable Tree Care today.

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