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Spring – footy finals, bird’s nests, spitfires!

October 15, 2012

You know spring is in the air when the footy finals have started, the birds are in a nesting frenzy and Spitfires make an appearance. Spitfires are the larvae of Sawflies (Perga sp.) a common but rarely seen relative of the wasp. The term sawfly relates to the saw-shaped egg laying device on the female wasp who lays eggs in eucalyptus leaves. When hatched the larvae congregate in large groups on the branches of trees and feed on the leaves. They store eucalyptus oil in their gut and regurgitate it if disturbed, hence the term spitfire. The larvae burrow into the ground to pupate in summer and the adults emerge in autumn to continue the cycle.

Pictured are the recently seen larvae of the Steel-blue Sawfly (Perga dorsalis).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Shaunna permalink
    October 15, 2012 2:12 pm

    I HATE THESE THINGS! Can strip a young tree in the twinkling of an eye. At least the big black lump they create makes them easy to see if timed right. When I was a kid on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Spitfires were green, spectacular looking and much bigger than these get. Different type of sawfly maybe???? Or different Eucalypts?

  2. Ayden Doumtsis permalink
    October 16, 2012 5:11 pm

    On numerous occasions i have observed Gang Gang Cockatoos eating the larvae of the steel blue sawfly. It is quite interesting to observe as i originally thought that they only fed on fruits, seeds and berries.

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