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Sawfly larvae

Sawfly larvae have been identified for agronomist, Michael Taylor (PFC Ag), from a barley crop north west of Griffith, in the Riverina district of New South Wales. Michael says they were found feeding on remnant spiny emex weeds and did not appear to be damaging any crop plants at this stage. Sawflies, a close relative of wasps, bees and ants (Order: Hymenoptera) have previously been recorded as occasional pests of crops including wheat, barley and lupins in parts of south-eastern Australia. Very little is known about the biology of this pest.

Sawfly larvae grow up to 15 mm long and are greyish-green in colour with a shiny dark head capsule. They are relatively hairless and leathery in appearance and may be easily confused with lepidopteran (moth and butterfly) larvae. They have a slightly flattened body with three pairs of well-developed thoracic legs and seven pairs of fleshy-lobed prolegs. The majority of sawfly larvae are phytophagous (plant-feeding) and adult wasps generally feed on nectar.

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