Despite the name, sawflies aren’t flies at all and reside in the order Hymenoptera, along with the more familiar wasps, bees, and ants. Females don’t pack a sting, but most species have a sawlike ovipositor that they use to cut into plant tissue before laying an egg. The elm sawfly is the largest North American sawfly, measuring up to an inch long, with the caterpillar-like larvae stretching to two. It ranges from Alaska to Newfoundland, south to North Carolina and Oregon. Adults use their strong jaws to strip bark from twigs to reach the tasty sap, while larvae enjoy foliage from elm (Ulmus), maple (Acer), birch (Betula), willow (Salix), and basswood (Tilia).
Photo by Alison Cobb on 7/15/20 in Missoula, MT.