The Hymemnoptera superfamily contains many more species than just ants, bees and wasps. Ichneumon wasps, the most numerous of all, are dealt with on a separate page but here are just a handful of sawflies, of which there are more than 500 species in Britain. As with Ichneumons, identification is rarely easy.
Many of them are striking in appearance, often as wasp mimics though lacking the 'wasp waist'. Others, including the Apple sawfly (Hoplocampa testudinea), Turnip Sawfly (Athalia rosae) and Gooseberry Sawfly (Nematus ribesii), are regarded as pests because of the damage the larvae do to the leaves of fruit trees and bushes plus garden plants.
Tenthredo maculata (16mm) and Tenthredo celtica (12mm) are superb wasp mimics from the Tenthredinidae family, the largest family numerically by some margin. The adults are common between May and late summer and frequently nectar on Umbellifers. Umbellifers in fact attract many types of sawfly and males often patrol the flowers in search of mates, as with the group of two males and one female of a Tenthredinidae species shown above. Strongylogaster multifasciata (15mm) is another fine mimic fom this family and is a rarity among invertebrates in feeding on bracken. Like many species, they tend to bask.
Tenthredo mesomelas (11mm) has plenty of green marking. Larvae feed nocturnally on buttercup among various plants. Tenthredo livida (12mm) is seen quite frequently between May and August. The markings, with a white lower face and white on the antennae plus red on the abdomen, make it one of the bonnier sawflies. Larvae feed on such plants as hazel, willow and honeysuckle.
One of the least popular species must be Arge rosae (7mm) which, as the scientific name suggests, can cause considerable damage to rose bushes on which its larvae feed. Another rose feeder is Allantus truncatus (12mm), a widespread species with adults occurring from May to August.
Willow Wood Wasp Xiphydria prolongata (14mm) is also from the Hymenoptera superfamily. This is part of a family led by the massive Greater Horntail (Urocerus gigas), which can measure over 40mm. All Wood Wasps use their sizeable ovipositors to lay eggs in wood and the larvae feed within the tree. The illustrated species is known to use Poplars, Willows and Elms.
Images © Jeremy Early. All rights reserved.