Sawfly – Dolerus nitens

Sawfly – Dolerus nitens
Order Hymenoptera – Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies
Symphyta – Sawflies, Horntails, and Wood Wasps / Family Tenthredinidae
Females of this subfamily will often dine on smaller bugs in search of protein for building their eggs.

Bees & Wasps Index | Bees & Wasps Main | Stinging Hymenoptera

This species of sawfly is one of the earliest spring fliers (photos taken April 12-13). I found numerous copies amongst the (dormant) grasses and low vegetation of overgrown, fallow farm fields. Their flight is slow and clumsy, resembling that of a common firefly. Larvae feed on various grasses.

Adult Sawfly ovipositing
Sawfly Ovipositor

Sawflies get their name from the saw-like nature of their ovipositor. This female is using her saw to slit open blades of grass wherein she lays her eggs. It took me many attempts before I was able to capture this process. It is virtually impossible to tell what is going on while these creatures are laying eggs, it's so quick, and the structures involved are so small. Early springtime (mid-April) is the time to stalk these enchanting insects – I found many of these sawflies (Dolerus nitens) laying eggs in a grass field at Winfield, Illinois.

Adult Sawfly

Adult Sawfly

Order Hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps, & Ants

Hymenoptera (Latin for membrane wing) is a vast assemblage of insects second only to Coleoptera (beetles) in the number of described species. Hymenoptera number some 115,000 species – of which 18,000 live in North America. Hymenopterans inhabit a wide variety of habitats, and show an incredible diversity in size, behavior, structure and color.
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