Pod People In My Hawthorn Bush

Social Pear Sawfly Neurotoma saltuum larvae

This isn’t one for the squeamish. Not quite ‘Pod People’ – hawthorn would hardly make a comfy bed for them to mature in. It was a beautiful early morning, and I was admiring the roses when I caught site of this large sprawling web between my hawthorn bush and climbing roses. The light was filtering through the neighbour’s cherry tree so I could not quite make out what I was seeing at first. I thought, gosh there must be some big spider in there somewhere. But I could not see the wood for the trees, as they say.

Social Pear Sawfly Neurotoma saltuum larvae

And then I saw a wriggling, teeming mass of squirminess (I don’t even know if that is a word or not?). I was both revolted and fascinated at first. What an earth were they? Never mind that, I needed to get my camera. The first image shows it as how I first saw the web in the partial shade, which is kind of creepy, and I was creeped out at first to be sure. With the others images I upped the ISO a little to get more detail.

Social Pear Sawfly Neurotoma saltuum larvae

At first I though they were Ermine caterpillars/larvae, as they form masses of silken webs on vegetation. Yet they didn’t look like caterpillars of any moth. I discovered they are actually Social Pear Sawfly (Neurotoma saltuum) larvae, which not only feed on pear, but also apple and hawthorn and cotoneaster, amongst other trees and shrubs. The web must protect them from predation, for wherever they go the web is there with them.

Social Pear Sawfly Neurotoma saltuum larvae

They appear to be stripping the leaves off the bush within the webbing. Since these photos were taken a few days ago the mass has split into two opposing groups going in opposite directions on the bush. Despite their rampant appetite, the trees are not usually permanently harmed. The larvae will reach a length of 25mm (1in) when fully grown, and then they will go down into the soil to pupate. In the following spring the black coloured adult sawflies will emerge.

Social Pear Sawfly Neurotoma saltuum larvae

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


July 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. ยฉ Pete Hillman.

27 thoughts on “Pod People In My Hawthorn Bush

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  1. I had a load of sawfly on my twisted hazel last year chomping their way through the foliage. I keep checking but no sign of them this year thank goodness. At least they don’t come with that web – it is gross!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As Candice says…..gives me the shivers. I don’t like spiders or creepy crawly things very much. Butterflies and moths are both beautiful and fascinating.

    I know of 3-4 tales of seriously creepy things, (one of which happened to me), so I would need no cautions on un-identified little critters. I’m happier to view them from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha the Social Pear sawflies really are social, aren’t they. I’ve seen these webby things around my cotoneaster and compost bin, and the squimy little critters too. Fortunately I’m not put off by squirminess. Great images to have captured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jill ๐Ÿ™‚ They hardly did any damage and was gone after a few days. I don’t know if the birds had them for protein or whether they all slid off the bush to the ground to pupate.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Julie. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always like the way light filters through trees, so couldn’t resist putting that shot in. They all disappeared a couple of days later, and the hawthorn had little damage.

      Liked by 1 person

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