Currently viewing the category: "Horntails, Wood Wasps and Sawflies"
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Subject: caterpillars taking over vine
Location: Louisiana
April 27, 2014 7:27 pm
I have recently begun renovation on an old industrial lot and have been trying to identify many of the plant species that have taken over. I am a novice, so I’m not even sure what the vine is, my guess is morning glory. upon my visit to the lot today I have observed an abundance of an orange headed caterpillar eating away at it. There are very many of these, but they are isolated to one vine. I would greatly appreciate assistance in identifying them as I have great curiosity about the ecosystem in new Orleans, Louisiana. I have taken this photo today, April 27.
Signature: the curious prancing unicorn

Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly Larvae3

Hi curious prancing unicorn,
These are not caterpillars.  They are the larvae of Sawflies, and your mistake is a common error.  Without knowing the species of plant they were feeding upon, it might be difficult to correctly identify these Sawfly Larvae to the species level, but they do resemble this image of Birch Sawflies from BugGuide, so we believe they are in the family Argidae.  You can browse through the images on BugGuide to see if you can find a good match.

Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly Larvae

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Subject: Blue legged Mystery
Location: Andover, NJ
April 26, 2014 8:48 am
Hoping you can help me with yet another mystery. I found this wasp-like insect on a service berry bush this morning. It was climbing around on the buds but did not appear to be gathering food, although it was quite active. It was very small, around 1/3 inch in length. I am wondering if it a newly emerged wasp or bee of some sort?
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Webspinning Sawfly

Webspinning Sawfly

Hi Deborah,
There are not too many images available online of your insect, a Webspinning Sawfly,
Pamphilius semicinctus, and your images are among the best.  Though BugGuide has three images, there is no species specific information available, but there is some information on the family Pamphiliidae on BugGuide, including:  “Adults have many-segmented antennae” and “larvae spin webs in a variety of woody plants where they feed on foliage.”  Since you observed your individual on Serviceberry, that might be a good indication that it is the host plant.  Watch for the larvae forming webs, and if you happen to observe them, please take some images and send them our way so we can update this posting, which is a new species for our site.

Webspinning Sawfly

Webspinning Sawfly

Webspinning Sawfly

Webspinning Sawfly

 

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Subject: Unidentified Bug
Location: Saigon, Vietnam
April 15, 2014 4:14 am
Can you identify this flying insect and where they are likely to have originated?
These were found in slatted crates in a shipping container from SE Europe. There were about 10 of these about 25mm long. Some were still alive and there was evidence of wood dust alongside.
April 2014.
Signature: K. Ginty

Wood Wasp

Wood Wasp

Dear K. Ginty,
This is a Giant Wood Wasp, and it resembles
Uroceros gigas, a species found in Europe.  Based on your observations, and the known habits of this species, it is highly likely that the individuals you found were imported with the crate and that they were most likely living as larvae in the wood when the crates were assembled.  There are, however, several subspecies found in Asia.  According to the Pest Reports EXPOR Database:  “Three subspecies of Urocerus gigas are found in Asia. U. g. gigas occurs in Russian Siberia and Kamchatka. U. g. orientalis occurs in China, Japan, Korea and Asian Russia (Far East, Kamchatka and Sakalin) and U. g. tibetanus is known only from Tibet (China).”  Despite there presence in Asia, it is our strong opinion that the specimens you found were imported.

Good evening Daniel,
Thank you for the quick response on this – mightily impressed.
I will tell my colleagues in Vietnam.
These scared them somewhat to say the least.
Thank you once again.
Regards
Kevin

You are most welcome Kevin.  Also, though it looks quite formidable, that ovipositor is harmless and to the best of our knowledge, the Giant Wood Wasp cannot sting.

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Subject: Swarms of wood chewing bugs
Location: grand rapids, michigan
April 12, 2014 4:35 pm
At first glance I thought “carpenter ants,” but that’s only because we have a massive carpenter ant issue in our neighborhood. Upon taking a closer look, I realized that they were definitely not carpenter ants. They come in swarms of 20-50 and land on any exposed wood in the area. At first it seemed that they were just congregating, but I noticed that the totem pole I’d been carving was starting to look smoother… Like someone had come around and sanded it for me. Since Wednesday of last week I’d noticed that the entire pole was covered in these things, but was too busy with other things to look closer. Today I went out and got a good look, and it was pretty clear that their mandibles were working extra hard. They were gorging away. I’ve had no luck identifying them on my own, and more than anything I’m just really curious what they are. They don’t seem to come from any particular direction, one minute there’s none , and five minutes later there’s dozens of them. They aren’t the best flyers, and seem to land in the grass every few feet before launching off again.
Signature: dave

Sawfly Chews Wood!!!  But Why???

Sawfly Chews Wood!!! But Why???

Hi Dave,
We wanted to contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this perplexing behavior prior to assembling the posting.  Chewing wood is generally a behavior associated with paper wasps and hornets that use the wood pulp in the construction of a nest.  The numbers of wasps you observed coming to your totem pole at the same time also implies that this is some type of social wasp, but it resembles a Wood Wasp more than a social wasp.  Here is what Eric Eaton wrote back.

Dolerus Sawfly chews wood, but why???

Dolerus Sawfly chews wood, but why???

Eric Eaton provided an identification, but cannot explain behavior
Daniel:
Ok, I can identify the wasps, but cannot explain the behavior….
The wasps are sawflies in the genus Dolerus (pretty sure anyway, definitely sawflies).  I’ll ask around and see if anyone can explain them flocking to a wood carving.
Eric

Sawfly attracted to wood shavings.

Sawfly attracted to wood shavings.

Update:  Thanks to Eric Eaton’s identification, we were able to locate an image of a Dolerus Sawfly on BugGuide that does indeed resemble the Sawflies in your images, and it is also crawling on some exposed wood.  There is no explanation regarding what is going on in these BugGuide images, nor in this BugGuide image.  This Cirrus Image website provides some information, including “Their flight is slow and clumsy, resembling that of a common firefly. Larvae feed on various grasses.”  But alas, there is no information on wood chewing activities.

Thanks for the identification!  Its quite odd, they definitely match the description, especially the clumsy flight.  On that note they certainly don’t fly together, they arrive one at a time within a minute or two of each other.  I had to take down some tree limbs today and sure enough the cut ends of the limbs were crawling with these guys within a few minutes.  The odd thing is they don’t interact with each other at all.  In fact it really looks like they are just sitting there.  If you get really close however, you can see their mandibles are hard at work.  They don’t really leave any marks, it seems that they just clean off any small dangling bits of wood.  Yesterday I noticed one had its abdomen curled down in an awkward position as though it was a bee trying to sting the wood.  But I haven’t seen any others do that.  But its like they can smell fresh cut wood for miles, because you won’t see them all day, but cut a log and they’re everywhere.
Thanks again!  You’ve definitely satisfied my curiosity, even if their behavior leaves a new mystery to solve.
Dave

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Subject: Never seen one like this.
Location: Mid Michigan USA
February 16, 2014 10:43 am
I have been finding these little bugs in our house. Only find one or two a week. I live in mid-michigan he have had a long hard winter. Not sure where the bugs are coming from. Maybe a table decoration that was made out of birch tree limbs. Just wondering what kind of big this is. It’s about the size of a dime In length.
Signature: Thank you, Chris

Stem Sawfly perhaps

Wood Wasp

Hi Chris,
We believe this is a Sawfly, a group of insects classified with bees, wasps and ants in the order Hymenoptera.  It shares some physical similarities to the Stem Sawfly in the genus
Janus that is pictured on BugGuide.  We will try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he shares our opinion.

Eric Eaton provides an identification
Daniel:
This is something much more interesting than a sawfly, but it is *related* to sawflies:  a xiphydriid wood wasp, no doubt this birch-boring species:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/310291
No records on Bugguide for Michigan yet, so would be nice to have Chris post this great image there.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: orange caterpillar
Location: Lakeland, FL
February 10, 2014 12:53 pm
We found several of these crawling around on rocks. They’re very fast movers, but curl up if you touch them. They’re about 1 to 1 1/4″ long. We didn’t see them on any plants, just the rocks. We’re in Central Florida, inland and found them on 2/10/14. I’ve never seen anything like this before and after trudging through the interweb, don’t see any pics that match. As you can see in the 2nd fuzzy pic, they have black heads. He was on the move and hard to catch.
thanks for any help.
Signature: Cindy & Jim

Orange Larvae:  Caterpillars or Sawflies???

Orange Larvae: Caterpillars or Sawflies???

Dear Cindy & Jim,
We are very rushed this morning and our initial attempts at identification did not produce any results.  We are posting your photos as unidentified and we hope to return to this later when we have more time.  Meanwhile, perhaps one of our readers wants to take up the challenge.  We are not certain if these are caterpillars or Sawfly Larvae.

Sawfly Larva or Caterpillar???

Sawfly Larva or Caterpillar???

Thanks for your quick reply. We’ve never seen anything like it.

Considering your Florida location, this could easily be a new exotic import from a faraway land.

I was afraid of that. I feel like we should go hunt them down and hold on to them until we know what they are. We have too many exotics here.
thanks

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination