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Dogwood Sawfly (Macremphytus tarsatus)

Order: Hymenoptera (hy-men-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Tenthredinidae
Genus: Macremphytus
Species: tarsatus


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Garfield, Arkansas
Champaign, Illinois
Saint Joseph, Illinois
Hollis Center, Maine
Pownal, Maine
Standish, Maine
Uxbridge, Massachusetts
Denville, New Jersey
Oyster Bay, New York
Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Elkton, Virginia
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Members' Notes:


On Aug 5, 2019, maineguide007 from Standish, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

The larve have defoliated about 90% of my redosier Dogwood. I can see large numbers parasitic wasps in the tree as well. The larve must serve as a good host for the larval wasps. I'm told that migratory song birds will feast on the larve as well.


On Jul 28, 2018, Mitchella from Pownal, ME (Zone 5b) wrote:

I'm rating these positive because they are a native insect and part of the ecosystem. If there are a lot on a small garden dogwood (I have a small Pagoda Dogwood), I carefully remove them and transfer them to a large mass of wild Silky Dogwood nearby. Since I avoid killing native critters (ok, except mosquitoes and black flies!) I would leave them alone if there were no wild dogwoods on which to put them. Even a completely defoliated dogwood will come back fine the following spring, but I agree they're not too ornamental without any leaves!


On Mar 10, 2013, whaisname from Oyster Bay, NY wrote:

Found, also, on my Pagoda dogwood.


On Sep 15, 2009, kizilod from Uxbridge, MA wrote:

I read that they don't do any lasting harm to the plant, but can bury into wooden siding, which may ultimately lead to woodpecker damage on your house.


On Sep 1, 2009, helco from Champaign, IL wrote:

I see them on yellow twig dogwoods as well. I'm told that they don't harm the plant, that they do only cosmetic damage, but they do plenty of that. They can be killed with a soapy spray (just plain dishwash liquid), but it's hard to get them all. They're generally to be found on the undersides of the leaves.


On Aug 27, 2007, claypa from West Pottsgrove, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

A major insect pest to the various Dogwood trees and shrubs (Cornus). The adults look like wasps, and lay eggs on leaves in early summer. The larvae eat the leaves in late summer and go through several molts with radically different appearances. They spend the winter in decaying wood and emerge as adults in the spring.

I see them on C. sericea (Red Osier Dogwood); haven't noticed them on the trees but they're probably there too. Sawfly larvae always occur in numbers, never singly, but they're easy to remove if you find them. They just curl up and play dead. The later instars make a cottony substance on their skin.