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Dogwood Sawfly Larvae

Macremphytus tarsatus


Order: Hymenoptera. Family: Tenthredinidae. Genus: Macremphytus. Species: tarsutus. The larvae look like small caterpillars, but they have 6 or more prolegs on the abdomen whereas caterpillars of butterflies and moths have 5 or less.. The adults are wasp-like. A significant pest to dogwood trees and shrubs (Cornus)


Open woodlands, 10 feet from small brook.


Found just today 3/28/12 on a forgotten external hard drive. Video attached. Attached link is my spot of an Elm Sawfly (aka Darth Vader) for you to get an idea what the adults look like. https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/10...

1 Species ID Suggestions

Dogwood Sawfly larvae
Macremphytus tarsatus Species Macremphytus tarsatus - Dogwood Sawfly - BugGuide.Net

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drP 6 years ago

I'm happy to help. And I agree--I love how much I can learn from everyone here. For example, a few years ago, local insects were little more than things that got in my way while I was taking pictures of plants. I never thought I could have a reasonable shot at IDing them. Thanks to Project Noah, Bug Guide, etc., a whole new world has opened up for me.

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 6 years ago

Thanks so much drP for researching this. I already spent 45 minutes not knowing much about leaves at all. It was a difficult search. I really wanted to know and answer your question. Thank you so very much! This is what I love about Project Noah. Meeting new helpful friends.

drP 6 years ago

I took the liberty of following up on this on my own. The long petioles, the venation pattern (best seen in the video), and the whitish color to the undersides look like Cornus racemosa, gray dogwood. It doesn't grow in the part of Virginia I live in, so I'm not really familiar with it. It's supposed to grow all over Pennsylvania. Check out http://www.carolinanature.com/trees/cora... and see if this looks familiar. That site says the leaves look like those of C. amomum, but the petioles of C. amomum are distinctly reddish, not green, and the veins look different to me as they approach the margin.
I never meant to suggest that the insect ID was wrong, or that the plant wasn't some kind of dogwood, by the way. Something about the leaves just got stuck in my head.

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 6 years ago

There are so many species of dogwoods trees and shrubs. I am still searching to find out what the leaves are. Possibly a type of Swamp Dogwood because it was in woodland/swamp habitat.

randp1 6 years ago

How unusual for all of those caterpillars to be on the same leaf. Great photo!

drP 6 years ago

Does this species eat anything other than Cornus? The venation of the leaves doesn't look like that of any species of Cornus I know (not that I know them all).

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 6 years ago

Thanks so much for helping me with the Id and so quickly, Forest Dragon and Jakubko

ForestDragon 6 years ago

With a bit of help, we (Jakubko) and I were able to narrow it downto M. tarsatus. We are pretty sure this is correct. :)

ForestDragon 6 years ago

These are Sawfly larvae (a type of Wasp). They look similar to Macremphytus testaceus (Dogwood Sawfly):

Hema 6 years ago

Reminds me of the book ," A very hungry caterpillar" by Eric Carle!!
Look how much of the leaf these guys have eaten!!

Carol Snow Milne
Spotted by
Carol Snow Milne

Pennsylvania, USA

Lat: 40.87, Long: -75.61

Spotted on Aug 7, 2012
Submitted on Mar 28, 2013

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