Dogwood Sawfly Larvae

The wife came into the house and informed me that some sort of white caterpillar was eating our red twig dogwoods by the driveway. What is with all these insects and caterpillars out here? I’m turning into an entomologist against my will.

So I went outside and this is what I saw:

It looked like only one branch of one red twig dogwood was affected so I snipped off the branch and dropped it in a pile of old dead leaves on the other side of the driveway. I went back inside and researched “white caterpillars of Ohio” and came up with ‘Dogwood Sawfly Larvae’ which makes sense since they are on my dogwood bushes. I’ll spare you all the details but they’re essentially harmless – the plant won’t die from them. They do damage but not enough to kill the plant, especially our large bushes. If I wanted to I could spray them with insecticidal soap or pick them off.

As I said, I chose just to cut off the offending branch they were living on.

One interesting note, their mid-life larval phase is when they are white – the whiteness makes them look like bird dropping, which camouflages them from predators.

Nature is cool.

P.S. Congrats to me, this is my 400th post! Somewhat befitting it’s a post talking about mother nature hating me.

7 thoughts on “Dogwood Sawfly Larvae

  1. Congratulations on your 400th post! You are so compassionate to place the entire branch in the compost pile. I remember catching tent caterpillars as a child, only to have my dad collect them and burn them. That particular species is dangerous for trees but still, it was kind of heartless. I love your last sentence. It does seem like you are getting a wrath of caterpillars! Good luck, I hope its not a plague of locusts next, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. There are so many days when it’s really tempting to move to the city (which I’ve never actually lived in a real city before). Ticks, caterpillars, yellow jackets, rabbits, deer – Mother Nature hates me.


      • Don’t do it! I live in Chicago, the people are enough to gladly put up with the pests mother nature has to offer. (Impatient, rude, inconsiderate, scary zombies to name a few.) You have to deal with bugs here anyway too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. H! Thanks! This post is perfect for me! I just was outside this morning with my dog and was repulsed/intrigued to see several Snow White tiny non-furry caterpillars on several leaves of the red twig! They do look like bird drippings at first glance! I chose to flick each branch and send them airborne away from the bush. After spotting and rescuing a wooly worm from a grassy area needing mowed, I spotted the more tenaciously the 95th saw tooth larvae battalion returning to the dogwood shrub! Your article has helped me be less squeamish and more compassionate towards the tiny critters. Nature is indeed grand and so incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

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