sawfly, common name for insects of several families of the order Hymenoptera, which also includes the ants, wasps, and bees. Sawflies are named for the two sawtoothed blades of the female's ovipositor that are used for slitting leaves or stems in order to deposit the eggs. The insects have two pairs of membranous wings and chewing mouthparts. Both the sawfly and the closely related horntail, whose burrowing larvae are the hosts of the ichneumon fly, lack the characteristic constricted abdomen of other hymenopterans. Sawfly larvae resemble caterpillars; some are leaf and stem borers, many feed on the surface of foliage, and others produce galls. Various species are destructive to larch, spruce, broadleaved fruit and shade trees, shrubs, and grasses. Most species have a single generation a year; they pass the winter either as larvae or as pupae in a cocoon or in some protected place. Sawflies are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Hymenoptera.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.