Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly Larvae

Adult sawflies have four wings, so they are not true flies. They measure up to 1/2" in length. Larvae resemble caterpillars, although they have some "false legs." Most sawflies seem to prefer older foliage. Larvae devour the needles of conifer trees. Tree branches may appear defoliated.

So... What's a Conifer Sawfly?

Adult sawflies have four wings, so they are not true flies. They measure up to 1/2" in length.

Larvae resemble caterpillars, although they have some "false legs."

Larvae may have a grayish body with lighter striping or they may have a yellowish or whitish body with dark spots along the length of its body.

Reproduction Patterns of Conifer Sawflies

Conifer sawfly eggs spend the winter inside gaps in pine tree branches. When they hatch in the early part of spring, the larvae begin to feed voraciously on the needles of the pine trees.

They then pupate in plant debris on the ground, maturing into adults by fall. The female adults will lay eggs which will then hatch in the spring.

Some sawflies lay eggs in the spring that will hatch into larvae which then pupate, spending the winter in cocoons.

Conifer Sawfly's Habitat

Conifer sawflies dwell in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada. As the name implies, these pests prefer pine trees and can be particularly devastating to forest areas.

Symptoms of Conifer Sawfly Damage

Most sawflies seem to prefer older foliage. Larvae devour the needles of conifer trees. Tree branches may appear defoliated.

Results of Conifer Sawfly Infestation

If there is a large infestation, and repeated feedings continue, a branch or an entire tree may end up being defoliated and die. If it does not die, it may end up being more susceptible to secondary diseases.

At the very least, growth of the tree may be affected if an infestation occurs.

Conifer Sawfly Controls


The combination of Insecticidal Soap and Botanical Pyrethrins will kill Sawfly Larvae on contact if they are spotted in your trees. Azadirachtin is also an effective control for Sawfly Larvae.


Insecticidal Soap (Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids) & Pyrethrin - The soap will penetrate the insect's shell and kill it by dehydration. Adding Pyrethrin creates the organic equivalent of a one-two knockdown punch. Pyrethrin is a nerve agent that will absorb into the insect and kill by paralysis.

Keep in mind, this soap is not like dish detergent, it's a base from a blend of plant sources and pyrethrin oils and come from the chrysanthemum flower.

Azadirachtin - A derivative of the Neem Tree, Azadirachtin is an insect growth regulator (IGR). It disrupts and speeds up the molting process of larval insects. It kills the insects when they try to molt to the next phase of life too soon. This control also repels the adult sawfly and many other insects.

Safer® Brand offers a variety of sawfly larvae control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our sawfly larvae control products for more details about how they work and how, when, where they should be applied.

Carefully read and follow all instructions on the product packaging for safe and effective results. It is recommended with any pesticide to test plants for sensitivity to the product. Spray a small section of the plant in an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before full coverage.


Since these formulas are contact killers and they do not persist in the environment, several applications may be needed for full control. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use these products in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90 degrees F to avoid wilting or browning of the leaves.

Why Choose a Pest Solution?

Thankfully, many people are starting to realize that products that are compliant for use in organic production are the best solutions available. Why exactly are these products preferred? These solutions break down quickly into their natural elements. They are preferable to chemical pesticides that leave residuals where they are sprayed, causing long-term detrimental effects on the environment.

Plus, if you’re using the wrong insect-control products on produce, these chemicals can make their way into your food, eventually reaching your home and family. You put your love and sweat into your garden because you want to put great food on the tables of your family and whoever else eats your produce. So you want to choose a product that befits the fruits of your labor.

Natural Predators


Natural enemies of the conifer sawfly include parasitic insects, especially parasitic wasps. These insects are great partners in helping to control sawfly infestations in your organic garden.


Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic insects, including parasitic wasps, lay their eggs inside the sawfly's body eventually killing the host insect. Lure parasitic insects to your garden by planting nectar or pollen producing plants.

To aid the organic gardener, parasitic wasps and other parasitic insects can be purchased through a commercial insect breeder. Make sure if you purchase these insects you have an actual garden insect infestation or you may notice parasitic wasps migrating to your neighbor's yard in search of food.


In the spring, parasitic insects may lay their eggs in the larvae of the conifer sawfly.

Plant nectar or pollen producing plants according to your local greenhouse or garden center's suggestion.

Environmental Controls


Collecting and destroying larvae and knocking them off trees will help control these pests. These methods should be used in combination with other control methods such as natural and organic controls.


Lay sheets on the ground around the pine trees to catch larvae that fall, then gather and destroy the larvae. Remove larvae by hand picking when the infestations are small.


When larvae are spotted, these environmental control measures should be taken. Delaying the use of control measures may allow populations to rise and damage to increase.

OMRI Certified for Organic Gardening Safer® Brand leads the alternative lawn and garden products industry, offering many solutions that are compliant with organic gardening standards. Safer® Brand recognizes this growing demand by consumers and offers a wide variety of products for lawns, gardens, landscapes, flowers, houseplants, insects and more!


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