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Sawflies are a relatively small group of insects. There are 176 species in Australia, including those with larvae known as 'spitfires'.

Features of sawflies include:

  • Larvae are caterpillar-like and feed on plant material.
  • The egg-laying apparatus (ovipositor) of most species looks like a saw, which gives them their name.

Sawflies are probably closest to the ancestral form that all hymenopterans (ants, wasps, bees and sawflies) evolved from. 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. The eggs hatch into caterpillar-like larvae, which feed on the plant.