Symphytos Contributed Pieces
Posted 4 September 2003:
2002 North American Neodiprion Collecting Report
In the summer of 2002, I made four trips to collect Neodiprion and
diprionids occurring in North America: a trip to the northwestern USA in
early June, a trip to Ontario, Canada in late June; a second trip to
Ontario in August; and a day trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts in late
following are descriptions of where I went and what I found on each trip.
All species identifications are preliminary - they are my best guesses
based on phenology, host plant, and larval coloration. I am currently
rearing adults to confirm these identifications.
Northwestern USA, 14-21 June 2002
In early June, I flew into Sacramento, California to start my 2002 field
I collected in several spots in northern California (particularly in the
Shasta Trinity National Forest). I then headed north into
Oregon, where my collecting was focused mainly in the Bend-Sisters area
(Deschutes and Willamette National Forests). I was fortunate enough
to spend a day collecting with Andy Eglitis, an entomologist at
Deschutes. Finally, I continued heading north into
collected in several spots in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest before
flying out of Seattle.
Things were a couple of weeks behind this year, and I was mainly finding
early instar larvae (first through third instars), but numbers were
nevertheless high in some areas, and I brought home a good number of
specimens. First, I collected numerous colonies of N. autumnalis
on ponderosa pine in northern California. In one location of planted
pines (Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, near Weed, CA), numbers were so
high that just about every tree had multiple colonies. I reared a subset
of these larvae, and found that I had also collected what appeared to be
N. mundus, which can be distinguished from N. autumnalis by
brown head capsule in the pentultimate larval instar (Dahlsten 1966).
Second, I collected numerous populations of N. abietis feeding on
fir, noble fir, and douglas fir, which preliminary molecular analysis
suggests are quite divergent from one another. It is also possible that
some N. abietis populations contained N. deleoni
individuals, as these
have been collected feeding on the same trees as N. abietis in
northeastern California (Sheehan and Dahlsten 1985), but I will have to
wait for further morphological and molecular analysis to confirm this.
Third, I was happy to find several populations of N. scutellatus on
douglas fir. These larvae were feeding on both the new and old growth and
were often collected on the same trees as N. abietis, but were
distinguished by their red head capsules and lime green dorsal stripes,
especially in later instars. Finally, I suspect that I collected a few
colonies on N. nanulus contortae feeding on lodgepole pine and
ponderosa pine in California and Oregon.
Ontario, 25 June-2 July 2002
After tending to the live material I brought home from the Northwest, I
rented a car and made the long drive from Cambridge to Ontario to collect
the egg-overwintering larvae occurring there. I started out in the
southeastern part of the province, collecting in several spots between
Peterborough and Bancroft. I then drove Northwest to Sault Ste. Marie,
where I spent just over a day looking at the Neodiprion collection
recording locality data at the Great Lakes Forestry Research Center.
After my visit, I headed back east, making several detours to historically
productive collecting locations along the way (some currently productive
collecting locations included areas near Espanola, Cartier, and Chalk
I collected a good number of specimens on this trip, and in contrast to my
first trip, was running into mainly late instar larvae. I collected
buckets of N. abietis larvae feeding on balsam fir. These larvae
to have an affinity for roadside trees and were very easy to spot- the
larvae feed exclusively on the old growth and skeletonize the needles,
which subsequently turn a rusty color. I also collected a smaller number
of N. abietis on white spruce, often in the same locations as
feeding colonies. Interestingly, preliminary molecular analysis is
consistent Knerer and Atwood's (1972, 1973) hypothesis that balsam- and
spruce-feeding populations of N. abietis may in fact be different
N. sertifer numbers were also high, and I collected populations on
mugho, red and jack pine. I collected several colonies of N.
pratti banksianae on roadside jack pine in the more northwestern
locations (e. g.,
Espanola) and N. pratti paradoxicus on jack pine in the more
locations (e. g., Chalk River). N. nanulus nanulus seemed
wherever N. pratti was found, and I collected numerous colonies and
individuals on roadside jack pine. Finally, I collected several
non-Neodiprion diprionids, including Gilpinia hercyniae on
Gilpinia frutetorum on jack pine, and Monoctenus sp. on
eastern white cedar.
Ontario, 8-22 August 2002
In August, I made a second trip to Ontario to collect the
cocoon-overwintering species. Again, I started in the southeastern
portion of the province, spending a day in Pembroke and Chalk River,
before heading south to meet up with Ed Czerwinski (Ontario
Natural Resources) in Bancroft. We collected in the Bancroft area and
along the way to Orillia and Sebrite. I then headed north through Parry
Sound to Britt and spent a day or so collecting on jack and white pine in
rocky outcrops along the road as I headed further north to Cartier and
Espanola. I then turned west, stopping by Sault Ste Marie on my way to
Thunder Bay. I spent several days in the northwestern part of the
province, and on one day met up with Mark Breon (Ontario Ministry
Natural Resources) and Barry Smith (Canadian Forest Service) in
spent a day collecting with Mark. I then drove east, and spent a
few days collecting in the northeastern part of the province (e.g.,
Chapleau, Timmins, Gogama, and Elk Lake areas) before heading back to
By the end of this trip, I had covered close to 2500 miles and collected
loads of specimens- by far my most successful trip of the season. I ran
into Neodiprion just about everywhere I collected, especially in
northern part of the province. N. virginianus complex, which is
to consist of two species in Ontario (N. dubiosus and N.
rugifrons; Becker et al. 1966), was particularly common, and I
encountered a great
deal of variation in larval coloration, even between individuals collected
at the same site. N. compar, a less gregarious species that can be
distinguished from other Neodiprion by its mask-marked face, was
widespread, and I collected numerous individuals throughout the province
beating on jack pine. I also collected several populations of N.
on jack pine, which were feeding in massive colonies and were about two
weeks behind N. virginianus complex in development. N.
lecontei was very
abundant in some areas, particularly in young red pine plantations in
southeastern portions of the province. The rarest species I ran into was
N. nigroscutum - I collected a few individuals by beating on jack
pine in a
couple of spots in the northwestern portion of the province. In addition
to collecting loads of Neodiprion, I also collected many other
1-2 species of Monoctenus on juniper and eastern white cedar,
similis on white and jack pine, and Gilpinia frutetorum on red
Plymouth, 25 September 2002
After my success in Ontario, I was inspired to do some local
before the season ended. In particular, I wanted to collect N.
pinusrigidae; Dave Smith (SEL) had informed me that this
species can be found
on pitch pine in late September. Therefore, I drove to Myles Standish
State Forest and spent a full day beating on pines and looking for the
feeding damage that is so characteristic of Neodiprion colonies
with a tufted appearance, owing to their habit of feeding on old growth,
and in the cases of recent feeding, leaf fascicles still upon the branch,
which give the branch a stubbly appearance). I collected several N.
compar larvae, some of which were late instar and others which were in
their first or second instar. I also found several white individuals that
had the red head capsule and spotted pattern characteristic of N.
lecontei. I had only seen the yellow form of N. lecontei, and
return I contacted Chip Codella (Kean University), who assured me
had seen the
white form of N. lecontei before. Preliminary molecular results
suggest that these individuals were in fact N. lecontei. Later in
day, I collected a single individual of N. pinusrigidae by beating,
intensified my search and was rewarded with a small colony at the top of a
10-ft pitch pine. I also collected several cocoons throughout the day by
beating, which will hopefully emerge sometime this year. Finally, I
collected a single N. pinetum by beating on pitch pine. The normal
for N. pinetum is white pine, so I was a bit surprised, and
molecular analysis suggest that this individual is quite different from
another N. pinetum specimen I collected on white pine in
the previous year.
The 2002 field season was a great success, and I collected over 3000
specimens of 20+ species of Neodiprion and other diprionids
throughout the northern USA and southeastern Canada. Over the next year
I will work to confirm these preliminary identifications based on larval
coloration, phenology, and host plant with adult morphology and,
molecular similarity to identified museum specimens. I will also venture
out into the field in early spring and summer - I will be making two trips
to collect the southwestern Neodiprion.
Becker, G. C., R. C. Wilkinson and D. M. Benjamin. 1966. Taxonomy
Neodiprion rugifrons and N. dubiosus
(Hymenoptera: Tenthredinoidea: Diprionidae). Annals of the
Entomological Society of America
Dahlsten, D. L. 1966. Some biological attributes of sawflies in
fulviceps complex in a brushfield pine plantation
(Hymenoptera: Diprionidae). Canadian Entomologist
Knerer, G., and C. E. Atwood. 1972. Evolutionary trends in subsocial
sawflies belonging to Neodiprion abietis complex (Hymenoptera -
Tenthredinoidea). American Zoologist 12:407-418.
Knerer, G., and C. E. Atwood. 1973. Diprionid sawflies: Polymorphism and
speciation. Science 179:1090-1099.
Sheehan, K. A., and D. L. Dahlsten. 1985. Bionomics of Neodiprion
on white fir in northeastern California. Hilgardia 53:1-24.
-Catherine R. Linnen (MCZ, Harvard)
Posted 5 October 2002:
Sawfly Workshops at NMNH, Washington, DC
Yearly informal meetings in Washington are becoming a
nice tradition. In April of 2001, S. Blank, M. Ivie, and
visited D. Smith for discussions and a collecting trip.
In August of 2002, S. Blank, T. Nyman, A. Zinovjev,
D. Smith and C. Apgar (formerly Anderson) all convened in
Mike Ivie and Alexey Zinovjev in front of the NMNH building, April 2001
(photo by S. Blank)
Stephan Blank and David Smith collecting sawflies at Beltsville
Research Center, Maryland in April 2001 (photo by A. Zinovjev)
Alexey Zinovjev, Tommi Nyman, Cathy Apgar (formerly Anderson), Stephan
and David Smith, NMNH, August 2002 (photo by Michael Gates)
-Stephan Blank (DEI)
-Tommi Nyman (Joensuu University)
-David Smith (NMNH)
-Alexey Zinovjev (Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg)
Posted 18 September 2001:
A Sawfly Poem From Rocky Mountain House
I am surprised and happy to report the existence a poem that mentions
sawflies! There are many works of written and oral literature that use
insects as a source of imagery*, but as far as I know this is the
reference to the Symphyta in verse or prose. The piece is by Henry
Stelfox, and it appears in his collection When the Sawflies Mate in
Summer and Other Alberta Poems (Alberta: Rocky Mountain House, n. d.).
Stelfox was born in Cheshire, England and settled in Canada around 1907.
He was a noted conservationist and received numerous awards in his
lifetime. Mount Stelfox in Alberta is named in his honor. Apparently,
the poem is not copyrighted; if anyone knows otherwise, I will
gladly correct my oversight.
-Sylvio Codella (Kean University)
*If you're into this sort of thing, see my
When the Sawflies Mate in Summer
by Henry Stelfox
When the sawflies mate in summer and the moose
are in their wallows
In the draws which circle round the jack pine hill,
A squaw quite near her cabin stretches moose hides
with her bobbin
While her husband roams the woods more moose to
Killdeer in the lowlands, their plaintive calls are
As coyotes seek to make their morning feast.
There is wildlife in the woodlands, lots of wildlife
in the waters;
It is Godís made Eden land for man and beast.
A wild goose honks its mating call while soaring oíer
And a mallard drake is calling to its mate;
The southeast wind is soughing through the aspen
and the willow;
As the dawn of day is breaking, the feathered world
Glancing down an arbored valley
Which girts around a mountainís base,
In a dreamland where oft I tarry,
I see the hand of God: His face.
As I view the scenic grandeur, mountains silently
My heart is full of rapture, my joy nigh bursts its
Iím viewing natureís wild life pictures, listing to
the wild life Bard;
To the sweetest songs and music, composed by
Oh how I love to gaze at the mountains, how I love
to swim in the streams,
In those crystal pure, icy cold fountaions, those rivers
Iíve traveled and seen.
Those pictures which Godís hand has painted,
crowned with the setting sunís beams
And steeped in the nectar of nature, are in this life
like a beautiful dream.
It is after the end of winter,
It is after the breaking of spring,
When nature is clothed in her summer mantle,
It is time when nature is king
When the sawflies mate in summer.