This is the common name for insects belonging to suborder Symphyta of the order Hymenoptera.
Sawflies do not possess a sting. Their name comes from the female’s saw-like egg-laying tube, which she uses to make a slit in a plant leaf or stem, into which she lays her eggs. Their wingspan ranges in size from 2 cm – 4 cm.
They are found on native trees and shrubs, such as eucalypts, paperbarks and bottlebrushes.
Larvae of sawfly species that feed upon eucalypts are often seen during the day in large closely packed groups on branches or on the ground.
I took this photo of a group of larvae on the concrete near our dogs’ kennels.
These larvae can cause extensive damage to food plants and they also secrete an irritating or distasteful liquid from their mouths.
With this defence, the sawfly larvae are usually avoided by predators.
They are sometimes called ‘spitfires’, although they don’t actually spit.
The larvae of the Steel-Blue Sawfly pupate in a cocoon in the leaf litter, while Bottlebrush Sawflies pupate without a cocoon. When Long-tailed Sawfly larvae have finished feeding, they enter a mobile pre-pupal stage, seeking soft bark (such as a paperbark trunk) or soft timber in which to bore and pupate.
Adult sawflies are not capable of stinging. However, the larvae may secrete an irritating liquid onto the skin or into eyes if disturbed.