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The larval stage of aquilegia sawfly can completely defoliate Aquilegia in early summer.
Aquilegia sawfly has caterpillar-like larva of a sawfly that eats the leaves of aquilegia plants.
Aquilegia sawfly larvae feed in large groups so damage can occur very quickly. Be alert for early signs from early May.
Search for the larvae and remove them from the underside of damaged leaves.
Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)
Adult aquilegia sawfly are black-bodied insects, up to 5.5mm long, with two pairs of blackish grey wings and light brown legs. They appear similar to small flies but are in the same order of insects as bees, ants and wasps, the hymenoptera. They emerge in late spring.
The larvae feed on the underside of the leaves, making large holes from the leaf edge. They take about two weeks to complete development before entering the soil to pupate. Adults emerge from the pupa after a couple of weeks and soon lay eggs. A second generation of larvae then causes more foliar damage. By mid-summer, the stems may have been stripped of foliage. Larvae of the second generation overwinter in pupal cocoons in the soil.
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