European pine sawfly

European pine sawfly -
  • Latin name: Neodiprion sertifer (Geoffroy)
  • French name: Diprion du pin sylvestre
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Diprionidae


Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick



Damage, symptoms and biology

The eggs of these insects overwinter on the needles of various pine species where they are laid. The eggs hatch in the spring and the emerging larvae form compact masses on the branches. They devour the needles of previous years until they are fully developed. Mature larvae have black heads and greyish green bodies with dark stripes on the sides. One of the initial signs of an infestation of European pine sawflies is withered, twisted needles that have been skeletonized by young larvae. In the case of severe infestations, all foliage, except needles of the current year, may be destroyed.

In certain parts of Canada, particularly in British Columbia and southern Ontario, European pine sawflies are considered a major pest because they attack Scots pine, a species grown in Christmas tree plantations. These insects can also inflict severe damage on plantations of red pine, which for many years have been a popular species grown in plantations. Pine trees used for landscaping purposes can also be defoliated by European pine sawfly larvae, which prefer to attack young open grown pines.

Other information

These insects, originating in Eurasia, were discovered in the United States in 1925 and in Canada in 1939 in Windsor, Ontario.

European pine sawflies are defoliator insects that attack several species of pine. Their activities make the trees they attack more vulnerable to other secondary pests, such as bark beetles. Fortunately, the growth of introduced European pine sawfly populations is usually limited by the activities of certain natural pathogenic organisms, particularly viruses, and of parasites, of which the most remarkable is also an introduced parasite species, Pleolophus basizonus. This virus is also used in applications for killing young sawfly larvae, just like a traditional insecticide.

Canadian Forest Service Publications

European pine sawfly

Diet and feeding behaviour

  • Phyllophagous : Feeds on the leaves of plants.
    • Free-living defoliator: Feeds on and moves about freely on foliage.
Information on host(s)

Main host(s)

Red pine, scots pine

Secondary host(s)

Austrian pine, eastern white pine, jack pine, mugho pine, ponderosa pine

  • European pine sawfly Characteristic feeding damage of 1st and 2nd instar larvae
  • European pine sawfly Larvae
  • European pine sawfly Female
  • European pine sawfly Male
  • European pine sawfly Larvae
  • European pine sawfly Eggs are laid in slits in needles in the fall
  • European pine sawfly
  • European pine sawfly
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