Spring temperatures have been slow to arrive this year, and although it’s been relatively cold we did reach almost 60F the other day. In the warm afternoon sun I found this common sawfly (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae: Dolerus nitens) resting on my wife’s car. This particular species is known to emerge very early in the spring, making it one of the few I have seen so far this season.
Sawflies are differentiated from bees and wasps in part by their characteristic “fat” waists. In bees and wasps, the first abdominal segment joins the thorax in a narrow segment. In sawflies, the first abdominal segment is relatively wide:
Although sawflies are named for the large, saw-like ovipositors possessed by females, these wasp-like insects are unable to sting. Almost all species feed on plant material, and the caterpillar larvae can often be seen feeding on their particular host plants.